Tiny organisms in a child's nose could offer clues to improving the diagnosis and treatment of severe lung infections, a new study suggests.
The study found that the composition of the microbiome -- bacteria and viruses found in vast numbers in the body -- was altered in the noses of children with respiratory infections, compared with his healthy peers.
This difference predicted how much time children had to spend in hospital and helped spot those likely to recover naturally, potentially reducing the need for antibiotics, said researchers from the University of Edinburgh.
"Our findings show, for the first time, the total microbial community in the respiratory tract -- rather than a single virus or a bacteria -- is a vital indicator of respiratory health. This could impact how doctors diagnose LRTIs and use precious antibiotics to fight infections," said lead author Debby Bogaert, Professor at the varsity.
Lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs), including pneumonia and bronchiolitis, are a leading cause of death. Symptoms include, shortness of breath, weakness and fever.