Upper respiratory tract infection (patient information)
Upper respiratory tract infection
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Upper respiratory infections, commonly referred to the acronym URI or URTI, is the illness caused by an acute infection which involves the upper respiratory tract: nose, sinuses, pharynx or larynx. In the United States, this represents approximately one billion acute upper respiratory illnesses annually.
What are the symptoms of Upper respiratory tract infection?
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Nasal discharge
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
- Fatigue, weakness
- Muscle pain
What causes Upper respiratory tract infection?
You can catch a cold if:
- A person with a cold sneezes, coughs, or blows their nose near you.
- You touch your nose, eyes, or mouth after you have touched something contaminated by the virus, such as a toy or doorknob.
People are most contagious for the first 2 to 3 days of a cold. A cold is usually not contagious after the first week.
Who is at highest risk?
Any one can have common cold but children, older population, people with decreased immunity are affected more commonly.
When to seek urgent medical care?
If you have the above symptoms contact a doctor.
It is commonly diagnosed clinically based on the signs and symptoms.
- Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Treatment comprises symptomatic support usually via analgesics for headache, sore throat and muscle aches.
- There is no evidence to support the age-old advice to rest when you are sick with an upper respiratory illness. Moderate exercise in sedentary subjects with a URI has been shown to have no effect on the overall severity and duration of the illness.
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Increasing fluid intake
Judicious use of antibiotics can decrease unnecessary adverse effects of antibiotics as well as out-of-pocket costs to the patient. But more importantly, decreased antibiotic usage will prevent the rise of drug resistant bacteria, which is now a growing problem in the world. Health authorities have been strongly encouraging physicians to decrease the prescribing of antibiotics to treat common upper respiratory tract infections because antibiotic usage does not significantly reduce recovery time for these viral illnesses.
Where to find medical care for Upper respiratory tract infection?
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
An upper respiratory tract infection usually gets better after a few days, and it normally has a good prognosis.
- Bone infection (osteomyelitis)
- Skin infection around the eye (orbital cellulitis)
- Ear infection