Upper Respiratory Infection Treatment Questions and Answers
What is an Upper Respiratory Infection?
An upper respiratory infection (URI) most often affects the throat and nasal passages, and occurs if a virus or bacteria enters the body, which is usually through the nose or mouth. After being infected, a cough or a sneeze, in close proximity to others, can easily spread the infection. Homes, offices, classrooms, or any enclosed space where people gather are higher risk areas for the spread of upper respiratory infection. In most cases, an upper respiratory infection will last anywhere from seven to ten days; however, in some cases, an infection may develop into a more serious condition like a sinus infection or pneumonia. The upper air passages that are prone to infection are the larynx, which is the organ containing the vocal cords, the nasal cavity, which is the space behind and above the nose, the nasal passages, and the pharynx, the cavity behind the mouth and nose. A child’s immune system is still developing, and for that reason upper respiratory infections occur more often in children than adults, who tend to experience an average of two to three infections per year. In addition, children that spend a lot of their time in close proximity to other children are at higher risk of infection as children are less likely to wash their hands as often as they should, or wipe runny noses. People in general are more likely to develop upper respiratory infections during the colder winter months simply because they tend to gather indoors more, where viral spread is more likely.
How long does it take to treat Upper Respiratory Infections?
Most URIs will resolve on their own, without treatment, or are treatable at home because the symptoms are relatively mild. However, URIs can cause more serious symptoms, and some will likely require medical care. When symptoms appear, it is a good practice to get a diagnosis as the symptoms can resemble those of other illnesses like:
- Seasonal allergies or an allergic reaction
Sometimes symptoms don’t respond well to home care or over-the-counter treatments, or they may get worse, and seeking medical care is very important.
Will I know if I have an upper respiratory infection?
Depending on the type of infection, the symptoms will be different, but some of the common symptoms of an upper respiratory infection include:
- Nasal congestion
- Excess mucus
- Mild fever
- Facial pain, or pressure
- Runny, dripping nose
- Sore or scratchy throat
Additional symptoms might include bad breath, headache and body ache, itchy and watery eyes, or loss of sense of smell. Even though most URIs resolve on their own, or with minimal home care, severe complications are possible, and you should seek medical care if your symptoms are getting worse, you see bloody mucus or are coughing up blood, if your cough lasts for more than 3 weeks, you are over 65 years’ old, you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system, or have long-term health conditions.
Preventing an upper respiratory infection isn’t always possible, but precautions can be taken and developing some of the following habits can help a lot:
- Avoid crowded or enclosed spaces when possible
- Avoid sharing utensils or drinking glasses
- Disinfection of surfaces that others frequently touch
- Follow a healthy diet and exercise
- Wear a protective mask
- Wash your hands every 30 minutes thoroughly with soap and warm water
At Family First Medical Group, our experienced, and highly qualified team of skilled medical professionals take great pride in providing our community, and our patients of all ages, with a wide variety of health and wellness services, from preventative care to chronic disease management, and much more. We also offer treatment for upper respiratory infections. Call our office, or visit our website to arrange an appointment, or for directions to either of our locations. We serve patients from Evergreen Park IL, Mokena IL, Hickory Hills IL, Oak Lawn IL, Chicago Ridge IL, Bridgeview IL, Bedford Park IL as well as many other areas in the Chicagoland Region.