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There are several disorders of the upper and lower respiratory tract. These disorders include but are not limited to Asthma, Atelectasis, Acute Bronchitis, Emphysema, Pulmonary Embolism, Emphysema, and Tuberculosis.

Atelectasis is when one part or lobe of the lung collapses, when this happens it has a large impact on the alveoli. The alveoli are an important component for providing oxygen to the body. There are three different types of Atelectasis:

Compressive atelectasis is when fluid, air, tumor, or blood is pressing against the lung causing it to collapse.

Contraction atelectasis is caused by fibrosis also known as lung scarring which causes the alveoli to not open in their intended way.

Resorptive or Obstructive atelectasis is often caused by surgery that requires anesthesia. In this type of atelectasis, there is an obstruction in the lung blocking air from reaching the alveoli; this is often due to a tumor, mucus, or an object that was accidentally inhaled into the lung. (Cleveland Clinic. (2018).

Testing and diagnosis of Atelectasis is typically carried out by medical imagining if there are no known contraindications for the patient. The avenues for imaging frequently used are chest radiography, chest computed tomography, or thoracic ultrasonography. (Grott, K., & Dunlap, J. D. (2019, August 22).

Signs and symptoms of Atelectasis can be trouble breathing, and shortness of breath, known as dyspnea, coughing, chest pain, skin and lips turning blue known as cyanosis, and rapid breathing, known as tachypnea. These symptoms are the result of low blood oxygen, known as hypoxemia. (Cleveland Clinic. (2018).

Individuals with atelectasis often heal on their own without treatment. In individuals who are unable to recover then treatment may be directed by the health care provider depending on the causation. Treatments include physical therapy or deep breathing exercises to help expand the lungs, known as incentive spirometry, utilizing bronchoscopy to remove obstructions, and bronchodilators to open the airways. (Cleveland Clinic. (2018).


Cleveland Clinic. (2018). Atelectasis. Cleveland Clinic.  https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17699-atelectasisLinks to an external site.

Grott, K., & Dunlap, J. D. (2019, August 22). Atelectasis. Nih.gov; StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545316/


Key Points on Infectious Disorders of the Respiratory System


1. Common Infectious Respiratory Disorders Infectious disorders of the respiratory system encompass a variety of illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other pathogens. Common infectious respiratory disorders include pneumonia, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and influenza. These infections can affect different parts of the respiratory system, from the upper respiratory tract (e.g., pharyngitis, sinusitis) to the lower respiratory tract (e.g., pneumonia, bronchitis (Shen et al., 2020).

2. Signs and Symptoms: Symptoms of infectious respiratory disorders can vary depending on the specific illness and the causative pathogen. Common signs and symptoms include cough (which can be productive or non-productive), fever, chills, and shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, and malaise. For example, pneumonia often presents with a high fever, productive cough with sputum, and difficulty breathing, while influenza is typically characterized by a sudden onset of fever, muscle aches, headache, and severe fatigue.

3. Diagnostic Tools: Diagnosis of infectious respiratory disorders typically involves a combination of clinical assessment and diagnostic tests. Physical examination findings, such as abnormal lung sounds (e.g., crackles or wheezes), can provide initial clues. Diagnostic tools include chest X-rays to detect pneumonia or other lung abnormalities, sputum cultures to identify bacterial pathogens, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for viral infections, and blood tests (such as complete blood count and blood cultures) to assess the body's response to infection. Additionally, tuberculin skin tests or interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) are used to diagnose tuberculosis (Rotundo et al., 2024).

4. Treatments: Treatment of infectious respiratory disorders depends on the specific pathogen involved. Bacterial infections are commonly treated with antibiotics, which must be selected based on the suspected or confirmed pathogen and its antibiotic susceptibility profile. For instance, amoxicillin or azithromycin may be used for community-acquired pneumonia. Viral infections, such as influenza, may be managed with antiviral medications like oseltamivir (Tamiflu), particularly if diagnosed early. Supportive care, including hydration, rest, and medications to relieve symptoms (e.g., antipyretics, cough suppressants), is essential for managing both bacterial and viral respiratory infections.

5. Prevention: Prevention strategies for infectious respiratory disorders focus on reducing the spread of pathogens and protecting vulnerable populations. Vaccination is a critical preventive measure; vaccines for influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia, and pertussis are widely recommended. Good hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing, covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoiding close contact with sick individuals, are essential. In healthcare settings, infection control measures, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and isolation protocols, are vital to prevent the transmission of respiratory infections (Shen et al., 2020).

By understanding these key points, healthcare providers can better diagnose, treat, and prevent infectious respiratory disorders, ultimately improving patient outcomes and public health.


Rotundo, S., Tassone, M. T., Serapide, F., Russo, A., & Trecarichi, E. M. (2024). Incipient tuberculosis: a comprehensive overview.  Infection, 10.1007/s15010-024-02239-4. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s15010-024-02239-4

Shen, K., Yang, Y., Wang, T., Zhao, D., Jiang, Y., Jin, R., Zheng, Y., Xu, B., Xie, Z., Lin, L., Shang, Y., Lu, X., Shu, S., Bai, Y., Deng, J., Lu, M., Ye, L., Wang, X., Wang, Y., Gao, L., … Global Pediatric Pulmonology Alliance (2020). Diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of 2019 novel coronavirus infection in children: experts' consensus statement.  World journal of pediatrics : WJP16(3), 223–231.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12519-020-00343-7Links to an external site.