Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Thorax. 2001 Feb;56(2):109-14.

Prospective study of the incidence, aetiology and outcome of adult lower respiratory tract illness in the community.

Author information

  • 1Respiratory Infection Group, Nottingham City Hospital, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK. john.macfarlane@nottingham.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Acute lower respiratory tract illness in previously well adults is usually labelled as acute bronchitis and treated with antibiotics without establishing the aetiology. Viral infection is thought to be the cause in most cases. We have investigated the incidence, aetiology, and outcome of this condition.

METHODS:

Previously well adults from a stable suburban population consulting over one year with a lower respiratory tract illness were studied. For the first six months detailed investigations identified predetermined direct and indirect markers of infection. Evidence of infection was assessed in relation to presenting clinical features, indirect markers of infection, antibiotic use, and outcome.

RESULTS:

Consultations were very common, particularly in younger women (70/1000 per year in previously well women aged 16-39 years), mainly in the winter months; 638 patients consulted, of whom 316 were investigated. Pathogens were identified in 173 (55%) cases: bacteria in 82 (Streptococcus pneumoniae 54, Haemophilus influenzae 31, Moraxella catarrhalis 7), atypical organisms in 75 (Chlamydia pneumoniae 55, Mycoplasma pneumoniae 23), and viruses in 61 (influenza 23). Seventy nine (24%) had indirect evidence of infection. Bacterial and atypical infection correlated with changes in the chest radiograph and high levels of C reactive protein but not with (a) the GP's clinical assessment of whether infection was present, (b) clinical features other than focal chest signs, and (c) outcome, whether or not appropriate antibiotics were prescribed.

CONCLUSIONS:

Over 50% of patients have direct and/or indirect evidence of infection, most commonly bacterial and atypical pathogens, but the outcome is unrelated to the identified pathogens. Many patients improve without antibiotics and investigations do not help in the management of these patients. GPs can reassure patients of the causes and usual outcome of this self-limiting condition.

Comment in

PMID:
11209098
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC1746009
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk