Who is at risk?

Who is at risk?

Although anyone can suffer from a respiratory tract infection (RTI), which is highly common, some of us are more vulnerable to the infection. These include1,2:

  • Children under 2 years old
  • People over 65 years old
  • Pregnant women
  • People with a chronic health condition, such as diabetes or heart disease
  • People with a pre-existing lung condition, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ( COPD )
  • People with a weakened immune system

Knowing who is at high risk can help us to be more attentive to our and others’ health, seek medical advice in time, and avoid possible complications.

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What to do in case the symptoms of an RTI arise?            
If you or someone you are caring for, has a respiratory tract infection and is at risk, please refer to a healthcare professional. Extra care and additional treatment may be required.  

What are the different types of RTIs and their main associated symptoms?

When to see a doctor?

How to reduce the risk of catching an RTI?

If you are in a high-risk group, there are a number of ways to reduce your risk of catching an RTI 2,3:

  • Ask your GP about the annual flu vaccination
  • Ask your GP if you should get a pneumococcal vaccine (which helps prevent pneumonia)
  • Adopt healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising regularly, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, eating well and getting plenty of sleep
  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact with people presenting RTI symptoms or suffering from an RTI such as a cold or the flu

How to avoid getting Respiratory Tract Infections (RTIs) and passing them on to others


  1. Health Service Executive. Respiratory tract infection, https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/r/respiratory-tract-infection/, Accessed October 21, 2020.
  2. Health Navigator New Zealand. Respiratory tract infections,  https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-a-z/r/respiratory-tract-infections//, Accessed October 21, 2020.
  3. National Health Service. Respiratory tract infections., https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Respiratory-tract-infection/. Accessed October 21, 2020.