Common Respiratory Diseases & Prevention

Upper and lower respiratory infections can infect different areas of the body. For example, upper respiratory illnesses are considered “head colds” and have symptoms such as sneezing, headache, or sore throat. Lower respiratory infections are considered “chest colds,” which have symptoms like coughing, chest congestion, or fever. Visit AFC Urgent Care Stoneham for either respiratory infection. We can diagnose and treat a variety of illnesses.

Common Upper Respiratory Diseases

Common Cold

The common cold is likely the most common out of all respiratory illnesses. It is caused by a virus through droplets from the respiratory system of an infected person. These droplets are then inhaled through the mouth or nose of another person. In order to prevent catching a cold, it is best to avoid others who are experiencing symptoms. Additionally, washing your hands before eating or touching your face, using tissues, and not sharing utensils can also help to stay healthy.


Sinusitis primarily causes nasal inflammation and congestion, mucus, and post-nasal drip. It is typically a complication from another illness, such as a cold, unless you have chronic sinus infections. The best way to avoid sinusitis is by avoiding getting sick altogether. Using a humidifier can help to prevent a cold from developing into sinusitis but keeping your sinuses clear.


Pharyngitis is more commonly known as a sore throat. It can be caused by either a virus or bacteria, but, similar to sinusitis, it is more likely to be a complication of a cold. Pharyngitis can also cause a fever, headache, cough, or fatigue, as well as a sore, scratchy throat. To prevent a sore throat, avoid others who are sick, wash your hands frequently, and do not share utensils with others.

Common Lower Respiratory Diseases


Acute bronchitis is a very common lower respiratory illness. It is caused by other viruses, typically the same ones that cause colds or the flu. Symptoms of bronchitis include coughing, production of mucus, fatigue, & shortness of breath. To avoid getting bronchitis, it’s important to get a flu shot each year. Additionally, be sure to avoiding smoking cigarettes or exposure to secondhand smoke.


Bronchiolitis is more common in small children and infants. The symptoms are similar to a combination of a cold and bronchitis, though fever is always possible. RSV is a common cause of bronchiolitis. To avoid your child from getting bronchiolitis, be sure to wash your hands before preparing food or picking up your child. Don’t let others who are sick hold or play with your baby.


Pneumonia can be a severe condition for some patients. It can cause hospitalization for those with low immune systems. Pneumonia impacts the air sacs in one or both of the lungs, causing a cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. Be sure to monitor symptoms while sick with pneumonia, and do not hesitate to see a doctor if things are not getting better. To prevent pneumonia, be sure to get the pneumonia and flu vaccine. Keep your immune system strong by getting plenty of rest, drinking enough water, and eating a balanced diet.