Upper respiratory infection (URI) is a condition, which involves illness, mainly caused by critical infection in the upper respiratory tract. This region includes the pharynx, larynx, nose and sinus. This infection causes diseases, such as tonsillitis (tonsils get inflamed), pharyngitis (causes sore throat) sinusitis (nasal passage becomes inflamed), laryngitis (voice box in your throat gets inflamed) and common cold.
Causes of upper respiratory infection (URI):
1. Both virus and bacteria cause upper respiratory infection (URI). The most common form of virus causing this infection is known as 'rhinovirus.'
2. The immune system of young adults and children are often very vulnerable. Hence, they are more likely to develop upper respiratory tract infection.
3. URI is also contagious and airborne in nature. So if a person comes in contact with an infected person suffering from URI, he/she is likely to develop this infection.
4. Not washing hands before meals can also cause upper respiratory infection because the virus can be transferred easily to the mouth and can travel into your system.
5. If you have any lung problem or heart disease, you are more likely to be susceptible to upper respiratory infection.
6. Those who already have inflamed tonsils can trigger tonsillitis by drinking any cold or spicy beverage like ice-creams or cold milkshakes.
7. Exposure to some flu or cold can cause pharyngitis. It can also be caused by second hand smoking.
8. Birth defects or structural defects in the nasal cavity or nasal polyps can cause sinusitis. Sometimes the inside part of the nose may get swollen due to common cold and block your ducts. This is a common cause for sinusitis.
Symptoms of acute upper respiratory infection:
1. Congestion in the lungs or nasal area.
2. Whooping cough
3. Running nose due to common cold.
4. Feelings of fatigue and lethargy throughout the day.
5. Your body will start aching without engaging in any physical exercise.
6. You can also lose consciousness in severe respiratory tract infections.
7. Difficulty in breathing.
Oxygen levels in blood drop down drastically.
Sometimes in worse cases, acute upper respiratory tract infection (URI) can also cause respiratory failure, respiratory arrest and congestive heart failure. Therefore, it is necessary to book an appointment with a doctor as soon as you start experiencing the above symptoms.
- Drink extra fluids to help thin secretions and make them easier to cough up.
- Increasing humidity in the air helps relieve a cough. A vapourizer and a steamy shower are two ways to increase the humidity.
- When a cold and a stuffy, runny nose accompany the cough, it is often caused by mucous dripping down the back of the throat. A decongestant that opens the nasal passages will relieve this postnasal drip, and is the best treatment for that type of cough.
- Decongestants such as phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine or combinations of these two decongestants are available as OTC cold medications. Don't give decongestants to a child under 6yrs unless prescribed by the doctor. It is important to talk to your physician before using any cough medications for children under 2. If you have high blood pressure (hypertension), consult the doctor before taking decongestants.
- Avoid smoking and coming in direct contact with people experiencing cold or flu symptoms.
- Wash hands frequently during episodes of upper-respiratory illnesses.