LRTI: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is LRTI?

Lower respiratory (tract) infection or LTRI is an acute infection of the trachea (windpipe), airways and lungs, which make up the lower respiratory system. LTRIs include bronchitis, bronchiolitis, croup (Laryngotracheobronchitis) and pneumonia.
Lower respiratory tract infection

Recovery Time

Symptoms of lower respiratory tract infection usually resolve without specific treatment or investigation in a median of three weeks.


Lower respiratory tract infections are diagnosed by
  • Patient history and physical examination of the symptoms
  • Examining with the help of a stethoscope. If you have a lower respiratory tract infection, your breathing will sound crackly.
  • Listening to your chest by tapping it. If your lungs are filled with fluid, they will produce a different sound compared to if they contain air.
  • Blood tests and X-rays can be taken if the infection is severe

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  What is LRTI ?
LRTI is the infection of the lower respiratory tract with virus, bacteria or rarely fungi.  It is associated with fever, productive cough and bodyache.  In severe forms it is associated with  wheeze.

Q2.  How do I get LRTI ?
You get LRTI if pathogens get into the lungs overcoming the body’s defense mechanism. It usually spreads through respiratory aerosols.

Q3.  What is the treatment for LRTI?
LRTI is managed with appropriate anti-microbials depending upon the cause. Other supportive measures include expectorant cough syrups, bronchodialators, Nebulization and steam inhalation.

Q4.  How long does it take to cure?
LRTI usually resolves within a week of appropriate treatment.
Q5.  How do I prevent LRTI?
You can prevent LRTI wearing appropriate mask. Do regular steam inhalation in cold conditions to keep chest clear. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is given in children below 5y and in the elderly above 65y of age to prevent LRTI due to Pneumococci bacteria.

Q6.  What are the complications of LRTI?
If not treated appropriately, LRTI may progress into Pneumonia.

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