How do you treat a lower respiratory infection?

Two of the most common lower respiratory infections are bronchitis and pneumonia. If you are feeling feverish, and if you have body aches, a cough with phlegm, congestion, tightness in the chest and a loss of appetite, you may have one of these conditions. The treatment of lower respiratory tract infections will depend on the type of infection you have and your medical background.

Respiratory infection are usually viral, in which case you will simply have to wait it out until your immune system fights off the virus. In the meantime, there are things you can do to manage your symptoms. These include getting lots of rest, drinking lots of water, sleeping on an extra pillow if you have a bad cough, keeping the room warm and getting fresh air. You may want to try some over-the-counter medications, such as cough remedies, decongestants and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, which can help you to manage pain or fever. Doctors are often hesitant to treat lower respiratory infections with antibiotics, since most of the time the infection is not caused by bacteria. In addition, if you use overuse antibiotics when treating minor infections, your body may develop resistance to the antibiotic, and the antibiotic will be less effective if you need to use it to combat a more serious infection.


Pneumonia is a lower respiratory infection that is usually bacterial and it's not a minor infection. Therefore, if you have pneumonia, your doctor will prescribe some antibiotics. Amoxicillin, doxycycline, erythromycin and roxithromycin are a few antibiotics that are commonly used to treat pneumonia. If you have a pre-existing health condition that weakens your immune system, such as HIV, or heart, lung, liver or kidney disease, or if you are undergoing chemotherapy, your doctor may prescribe precautionary antibiotics, just in case your lower respiratory tract infection turns out to be bacterial.