A Guide to Upper Respiratory Infections and Their Treatment

Upper respiratory infections are, at best, frustrating and painful and, at worst, serious illnesses that can land people in the hospital for extended periods. This guide will help you understand what these infections are, what can cause them, and what treatments are available.

What are upper respiratory infections?

Upper respiratory infections are usually bacterial, but sometimes viral, infections that impact the respiratory region, including the larynx, the nasal cavity, nostrils, the pharynx, or the lungs. One of these infections can affect one or all of these areas of the body. Most adults get at least one upper respiratory infection per year, typically when the weather is cold outside. There are about 200 known types of upper respiratory infections.

What can cause upper respiratory infections?

Upper respiratory infections develop in a wide variety of situations. Being around large groups of people, especially children, frequently can put you at an increased risk of getting one of these illnesses. Smokers are usually at a higher risk of having upper respiratory issues than non-smokers.

Finally, those who have known nasal passage problems or have had their tonsils and adenoids removed tend to get upper respiratory infections more than those who do not have these issues. In many cases, washing your hands on a regular basis can dramatically reduce the risk of getting sick.

How can upper respiratory infections be treated?

Most upper respiratory infections are not severe and can be treated at home using over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. The most common symptoms associated with these sorts of diseases are fever, runny nose, sinus pain, sore throat, and coughing. Typically, all of these will go away with extra rest and medicine you already have in your household.

In rare cases, upper respiratory infection symptoms will become extremely severe or not go away for several weeks. If this happens to you, visit a doctor to make sure you don’t have an illness like bronchitis or pneumonia that needs a prescription for treatment.

If you have a history of hospitalization due to upper respiratory issues, you should immediately seek professional care as soon as you think you have an illness; this way, your doctor can give you the proper treatment right away.

Although upper respiratory infections are not fun, they typically go away on their own and will not severely affect your overall lifestyle. Remember, specific at-home remedies, including drinking honey-ginger tea, may also soothe your symptoms and help you get the rest you need to recover quickly.