How to identify respiratory symptoms and provide the right treatment.

Sneeze, Wheeze, and Blow

It is spring and the pollen is out, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic, and spring colds and sinus infections are always hanging on long after flu season. Many of these can mimic respiratory symptoms or even cause a more serious condition that can lead to harmful and long-term health problems.

The tricky thing about respiratory issues is the commonality of symptoms that could be a variety of different medical diagnoses it could be. From a common cold, asthma, or COVID-19, the list is lengthy and can be frustrating for the patient and difficult for the healthcare providers to provide a proper diagnosis in a timely manner. Unfortunately, respiratory issues can be viral, bacterial, or fungal and must be treated properly to prevent further complications and to resolve the symptoms for the patient. The question is, how do we identify the different types of infections and what do we do with the others in between.


To first understand what is classified as a respiratory issue, it is important to know the most common types of respiratory infections and their symptoms.

Viral, bacterial, and fungal have very similar common symptoms but there are some that vary which allows healthcare providers to make an educated decision on what the next steps are for treatment.

Symptoms of a viral respiratory infection

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Trouble breathing
Fungal lung infection symptoms

  • A high temperature (fever)
  • A cough
  • A feeling of breathlessness
  • Coughing up sputum or, in severe cases, blood
  • A general feeling of weakness
  • Sometimes the infection can cause achy joints
A bacterial respiratory infection is more commonly known as “coup.” Symptoms include:

  • A “Barking” cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fast or noisy breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Congestion/runny nose

Bacterial and Viral Infection Treatments

It is also important to note that the common cold, COVID-19, the Flu, and even asthma can display the same symptoms and all can lead to more serious respiratory infections. That is why it is so important to identify the correct source of infection and treat the patient based on proper diagnosis and the correct medication if it is warranted.

Bacterial Infections Treatment with Antibiotics

Antibiotics are medications used to treat bacterial infections. There are multiple types of antibiotics and their main purpose is to stop bacteria from multiplying in the body, however, they’re not effective against viral infections.

It is so important to determine whether the infection is viral or bacterial because it is dangerous to over-prescribing unnecessary antibiotics because it can eventually lead to antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria adapt to be able to resist certain antibiotics. It can make many bacterial infections more difficult to treat. It is also very important to complete the entire course of antibiotics even if you start to feel better because stopping the prescription halfway through can also cause antibiotic resistance. If you want to learn more about Antibiotic Stewardship, visit our website where DTPM has resources and information that can help you better understand Antibiotic Stewardship.

Treating Viral infections

One of the most common viral infections is the common cold. There are very few prescribed medical treatments for viral infections. Viral treatments usually include common over-the-counter or at-home remedies that include:

  • Drinking fluids to stay hydrated (Water, Hot Tea, and Gatorade)
  • Rest and relaxation
  • OTC pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to relieve aches, pains, and fever
  • OTC decongestants to help with a runny or stuffy nose such as nasal sprays
  • Sore throat treatments such as throat lozenges and sprays

How PCR Testing Can Help Determine the Difference between Viral and Bacterial Respiratory Infections

DTPM currently provides a Molecular testing panel that can assist healthcare providers in diagnosing respiratory illness and providing the proper treatment. The Respiratory Panel is a comprehensive panel detecting viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens causing respiratory illness by molecular technique.

  • Acute Bronchitis
  • Common Cold
  • Acute Pharyngitis
  • Acute Tonsillitis
  • Cough and Fever
  • Wheezing
  • Pneumonia
  • Viral Infection
  • Other Nasal and Sinus Diseases


Now you can provide patients with the quickest and most accurate results possible to allow the healthcare provider to provide an accurate diagnosis:

  • Expedited patient results
  • Multiple pathogens available
  • Unmatched accuracy of PCR
  • Simple collection
  • Direct access to experienced scientific staff
  • Personal customer service experience



  • Adenovirus
  • Bocavirus
  • Coronavirus 229E
  • Coronavirus HKU-1
  • Coronavirus NL63
  • Coronavirus OC43
  • Enterovirus
  • Influenza A
  • Influenza B
  • Metapneumovirus A & B
  • Parainfluenza virus Type 1
  • Parainfluenza virus Type 2
  • Parainfluenza virus Type 3
  • Parainfluenza virus Type 4
  • Parechovirus
  • Respiratory syncytial virus A & B
  • Rhinovirus


  • Bordetella pertussis
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae
  • Legionella (pneumophila & longbeachae)
  • Moraxella catarrhalis
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae
  • Salmonella spp
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Endogenous control*

For Research Use Only. Not for use In diagnostic procedures.

DTPM Inc. is a nationwide provider of laboratory products, services, and solutions. DTPM has partnered with laboratories since 1993 to provide a comprehensive array of instrumentation, custom assays, laboratory consumables, supplies, and ongoing service and support.

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