Respiratory Infections

Common Cold

Inflammation of the nasal passages due to any number of respiratory viruses. Usually not serious; vast majority are self-treated. Incidence/Prevalence in USA: Preschool children 6-10 colds/yr; kindergarten 12/yr; schoolchildren 7/yr; adolescents/adults 2-4/yr. National Ambulatory Survey: 31 episodes/100 persons/year (counting only colds that lead to medical attention or at least one day of restricted activity).

Chronic Cough

Chronic cough is defined as cough of >3 weeks duration. Patients present for fear of underlying pathology (eg, cancer), annoyance, self-consciousness, hoarseness. Patients with stress urinary incontinence may find cough particularly troubling. COPD and smoking-related cough are most common etiologies at the primary care level.


Conditions that may lead to bronchiectasis include severe pneumonia (especially measles, pertussis, adenoviral infections in children), necrotizing infections due to Klebsiella, staphylococci, influenza virus, fungi, mycobacteria, mycoplasma, bronchial obstruction from any cause (foreign body, carcinoma, enlarged mediastinal lymph nodes.


Atelectasis (lung collapse) is a portion of lung which is non-aerated, but otherwise normal. May be an asymptomatic finding on CXR or associated with symptoms.

Review of Colds

Allergic rhinitis symptoms (runny nose, mild congestion, itchy eyes) seem to be associated with the move to a new location. Headache may be due to congestion. Wheezing may indicate new onset of asthma.

Assessment of Colds

Dress normally, maintain clear fluids and healthy diet, and rest as much as possible. Wash your hands frequently, and clean surfaces with antiviral products, such as Lysol, to prevent spreading your cold to others.

Pulmonary Infections

Acute pneumonia is a potentially life-threatening illness requiring rapid diagnosis and treatment. A delay in antibiotic treatment increases the risk of a fatal outcome. Annually, 2 to 3 million cases of pneumonia are reported in the United States.