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What is an upper respiratory tract infection?

An Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URI), often referred to as the ” common cold ” is an infection of the upper respiratory system: nose, sinuses, throat, and upper airway. It’s usually caused by viruses, but occasionally bacteria and fungi can be the culprit. The infection occurs when you come in contact with a pathogen (virus, bacteria, or fungus): shaking someone’s hand who is also sick or touching a contaminated surface. The transfer occurs when you then touch your face, nose or mouth.

Viral Upper Respiratory Tract Infections | SpringerLink

What are the symptoms of a URI?

  • Fever and Chills
  • Runny Nose
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Fatigue

When should I go to Urgent Care?

  • Fever greater then 101.0
  • Rapid of difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Stridor ( raspy coarse breath sounds)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Severe coughing
  • Dizziness

How are upper respiratory infections diagnosed?

Upper respiratory infections are diagnosed through history taking ( understanding your symptoms ) and physical examination. Sometimes the doctor will want a Chest X-Ray, rapid step or mononucleosis test among other diagnostic modalities. The focus will be on examining the head, neck, and chest.

How are they Treated?

URIs are often caused by viruses and there are over 200 known organisms that can cause this type of infection. Unfortunately there is no known cure for viral URIs nor do antibiotics help unless your doctor diagnoses you with a bacterial infection. Most URIs resolve with time, your body will kill the virus using its own natural defenses otherwise known as the immune system. Increasing hydration, decongestants, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and cough suppressants can help to alleviate the symptoms but don’t shorten the period of illness.

How can I prevent an Upper Respiratory Infection?

  • Avoid others who are ill
  • Frequent hand washing
  • Stop smoking
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Eat a healthy diet

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