Many lower respiratory infections (LRTIs) are self-limited and resolve without the need for additional treatment. There is no universal treatment for all LRTIs, so if you do need treatment, your doctor will choose treatments that best address the symptoms you are experiencing.
Ingest plenty of fluids, and get plenty of rest. Using a humidifier to breathe warm, moist air may provide relief. Also, be sure to avoid cigarette smoke and other pollutants, such as chemical fumes.
Since most LRTIs are viral, medications are generally not used in treatment. However, certain over-the-counter medicines may provide some relief from symptoms:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin can relieve pain and fever
- Acetaminophen can also provide relief from pain and fever
- Using a bronchodilator inhaler can help wheezing and shortness of breath
- If an LRTI is bacterial, antibiotics may be prescribed, depending on how serious the infection is and your overall health. These treat the bacterial cause of the infection.
In the case of serious LRTIs, treatment in a hospital may be necessary. Treatments for LRTIs in the hospital may include:
- Intravenous fluids
- Humidified oxygen
- Ventilation support, i.e., high flow oxygen, CPAP, BiPAP or mechanical ventilation, if severe respiratory insufficiency develops