Health & Diet

Upper Respiratory Infection Treatment

Day 59, Project 365 - 12.18.09Photo by William Brawley

People who had a cold know very well about acute respiratory infections. URI (upper respiratory infection) is an infection of your upper respiratory tract, and it’s contagious. The nose, pharynx, bronchi, larynx, and throat are all part of your upper respiratory tract.

The most well known URI is, without doubt, a cold. Other types of the upper respiratory infection include pharyngitis, tracheobronchitis, epiglottitis, and sinusitis. Since influenza is a systemic illness, it is not an infection of the upper respiratory tract.


The types of the upper respiratory infection refer to the parts of the upper respiratory tract, which is involved in the infection. There are other types of URI, beside the common cold:

Sinusitis – This is the inflammation of the sinuses.
Epiglottitis – This is the inflammation of the upper part of your trachea – epiglottis.
Laryngitis – This is the inflammation of the voice box or larynx.
Bronchitis – This is the inflammation of the bronchial tubes.


Both bacteria and viruses can cause acute upper respiratory infections:


Upper respiratory infections caused by bacteria:

– group C beta-hemolytic streptococci
– chlamydia pneumoniae (chlamydia)
– neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonorrhea)
– corynebacterium diphtheriae (diptheria)
– group A beta-hemolytic streptococci (GABHS)

Upper respiratory infections caused by viruses:

– human metapneumovirus
– respiratory syncytial virus
– parainfluenza virus
– coxsackie virus
– adenovirus
– rhinovirus


A nasal congestion, , runny nose, sneezing, and sputum production are the hallmark symptoms of the upper respiratory infections. The inflammation of the mucous membranes causes these symptoms in the upper respiratory tract. There are also other symptoms, such as:

– wheezing
– pain during swallowing
– headache
– fatigue
– fever


Usually, people with the upper respiratory infection know what they have. In order to relief the symptoms, they may visit their doctor. Most upper respiratory infections are diagnosed by doing a physical exam. Some of the test used to diagnose the upper respiratory infections are:

– Throat Swab
– Lateral Neck Y-Rays
– Chest X-Ray
– CT Scan


The upper respiratory infections are usually treated for relief of symptoms. many people use vitamin C, expectorants, zinc, and cough suppressants in order to shorten the duration or reduce symptoms. There are also other treatments, such as:

– Nasal decongestants may improve your breathing. However, if this treatment is repeated, the result may be less effective.
– Steam inhalation with salt water is an effective way to get relief from the upper respiratory infection symptoms.
– Analgesics, such as NSAIDs and acetaminophen, can reduce pains, aches and fever.


Frequent hand washing with water and soup is the best protection against the upper respiratory infections. By washing your hands you reduce exposure to secretions which can often spread infection. There are also other strategies, such as:

– Don’t be in close contact with sick people.
– Make sure to wipe down objects, such as phones and remote controls, which may be touched by people in the house who have the upper respiratory infection.
– If you are the one who is sick, always cover your nose and mouth.
– Also, if you are sick, stay at home.

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