Sunday, December 11, 2005

acute respiratory disease

acute respiratory disease (ARD; upper respiratory infection, URI)
Acute respiratory disease (ARD) is a term used to characterize mild to severe inflammation of the pharynx, nasopharynx, sinuses, eustachian tube-middle ear apparatus, larynx, epiglottis, and trachea. The most frequent cause of ARD is a viral organism, but secondary bacterial infections also cause a variety of complications. Acute respiratory disease is seen frequently in the elderly. Several factors may contribute to the increased susceptibility to respiratory disease in the elderly. These include age-related physiological alteration in the lung, a decrease in mucociliary clearance, probable decline in the immune function, and the frequent presence of other pulmonary diseases.
One of the most common viruses, the INFLUENZA virus, is responsible for widespread, often epidemic, diseases with devastating complications. The elderly are especially vulnerable. Severe malaise, fever, nausea, headaches, and diffuse pains result. BRONCHITIS and secondary bacterial PNEUMONIA are common complications. The single most effective preventive measure is an annual influenza vaccination. All high-risk people should obtain one each year. Treatment of uncomplicated ARD and influenza is symptomatic. Antibiotics are of no value in uncomplicated cases. Treatment usually consists of rest, plenty of fluids, and aspirin or aspirin substitutes for pain and fever.
It is important to treat promptly any respiratory infection because of the likelihood of progression to bronchitis or pneumonia in the elderly.

See also SINUSITIS.
Ballenger, J. J. Diseases of the Nose, Throat, Ear, Head and Neck, 13th ed. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1985.


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