Respiratory illnesses

Acute infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract

Infections of the respiratory tract are among the most frequently occurring diseases. The reason for this is that harmful environmental influences (e.g. dust, bacteria, viruses, etc.) can penetrate both the upper respiratory tract (mouth, nasal cavity, paranasal sinuses, throat and larynx) and the lower respiratory tract (trachea and lungs) very easily.

Infections of the upper respiratory tract are much more common than infections of the lower respiratory tract.

Actually, every person’s body is protected by the mucous membranes that line their airways. These are part of the immune system because they provide protection against bacteria, viruses and fungi, amongst other things. However, if the immune system is weakened by infections or other negative influences, for example, this usually results in a respiratory infection.

Chronic diseases of the lower respiratory tract

Respiratory diseases may also have recurrent symptoms and take a protracted course. This may include chronic bronchitis, asthma or COPD.
Two types of asthma can be distinguished according to the causes triggering them:

•    Allergic asthma is triggered by certain external stimuli.
•    Non-allergic asthma - the exact causes of which are not known here.
Frequent triggers are unspecific stimuli such as cold air, respiratory infections, tobacco smoke, air pollution, stress, certain painkillers, physical stress.

At first glance, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is very similar to asthma. Nevertheless, the two diseases have different causes, take a different course of disease and must therefore be managed differently.
COPD is a chronic respiratory disease which only begins over the age of 40. The disease can be traced back to many years of exposure to harmful substances, often tobacco smoke. The lung has suffered permanent damage. The symptoms (in German: AHA = “Atemnot, Husten, Auswurf”) meaning  shortness of breath, coughing, sputum production are typical of COPD.