Respiratory Infections | Asthma and Respiratory

Asthma and Respiratory Care

Respiratory Infections

UC Davis Health delivers trusted respiratory tract infection care. We have decades of experience and use today’s best treatments to protect our community’s health.

Medically reviewed by Dean Blumberg, M.D. on Aug. 25, 2023.

Older man coughing while older woman sits next to him seeing what's wrong

Respiratory Infection Care

Respiratory tract infections affect organs and other structures that help you breathe, including your lungs, airways and sinuses. Expert care from UC Davis Health includes a prompt, accurate diagnosis, so you can start feeling better sooner.

Respiratory infection risks are constantly changing. Whether it’s a new flu strain or a little-known virus, we carefully track the germs impacting our community. This information helps us know which infections to watch out for, leading to timely care and lower complication rates.

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Our Difference

Expert, collaborative care

Our highly skilled infectious disease specialists deliver exceptional respiratory infection care, including uncommon bacterial and fungal strains. We often work with the UC Davis Division of Pulmonary Medicine to help care for rare and difficult-to-treat diagnoses.


Our researchers developed a respiratory infection test that checks for more than 20 viruses and bacteria. If you are high-risk and showing signs of infection, this test helps us pinpoint the source quickly.


Your first step may be visiting your primary care provider if you think you have a respiratory infection. They regularly diagnose and treat common respiratory infections, like colds and the flu. Many clinics offer same- and next-day appointments.


What Are Respiratory Tract Infections?

These conditions occur when an infectious disease attack tissue in your respiratory system. Upper respiratory infections typically affect your nose and throat. Lower respiratory tract infections occur in your lungs and airways.

Common Respiratory Tract Infections

Common Cold

This upper respiratory infection causes mild irritation of the tissue lining your nose and throat. It often goes away on its own.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is a viral, highly contagious respiratory infection. The virus causes mild to severe illness in humans. This can lead to long COVID, in which symptoms can last for at least two months.

Influenza (Flu)

Flu is a viral respiratory infection. Two types affect humans: A and B. Type A is more severe, but antiviral drugs can help your body get rid of it faster.


Pneumonia is a lung infection due to bacteria, viruses or fungi. It can lead to severe complications, but most people get better with standard treatments.


Causes of Respiratory Tract Infections

Viruses, bacteria and fungi spread respiratory infections. These germs can enter your respiratory system through bodily fluids, environmental factors or physical contact.

You can increase your chances of preventing respiratory tract infections by:

  • Practicing good personal hygiene
  • Washing your hands several times a day
  • Disinfecting surfaces that carry germs, such as doorknobs and phones
  • Getting vaccines for some respiratory infections, including the COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine

Infections can transfer through:

Bodily Fluids

When an infected person coughs or sneezes, tiny germ droplets carrying the disease spread. Speaking with someone in close physical proximity may also disperse droplets.

Environmental Factors

Conditions such as valley fever spread by inhaling contaminated dust particles from soil and plants.

Physical Contact

Contact from hugging, shaking hands, kissing or sharing personal items allows infections to pass from person to person.

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Ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals

A U.S. News & World Report best children’s hospital in diabetes & endocrinology, nephrology, and orthopedics*. (*Together with Shriners Children’s)

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Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital

Ranked Sacramento’s #1 hospital by U.S. News, and high-performing in COPD, colon cancer surgery, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, hip fracture, hip replacement, kidney failure, leukemia, lymphoma & myeloma, lung cancer surgery, ovarian cancer surgery, pneumonia, prostate cancer surgery, stroke, TAVR, uterine cancer surgery, gastroenterology & GI surgery, and orthopedics.

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UC Davis Medical Center has received Magnet® recognition, the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence.

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UC Davis Health has been recognized as a level 10 out of 10 in the Digital Health “Most Wired” program from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The honor recognizes excellence in using technology to improve the delivery of care.

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World-class cancer care

One of ~56 U.S. cancer centers designated “comprehensive” by the National Cancer Institute.

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A leader in health care equality

For the 11th consecutive year, UC Davis Medical Center has been recognized as a “Leader in LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality.”

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