July 28, 2015
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Upper Respiratory Infection (cont.)

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What are the symptoms of upper respiratory infection?

Generally, the symptoms of upper respiratory infection result from the toxins released by the pathogens as well as the inflammatory response mounted by the immune system to fight the infection.

Common symptoms of upper respiratory infection generally include:

  • nasal congestion,
  • runny nose (rhinorrhea),
  • nasal discharge (may change from clear to white to green)
  • nasal breathing,
  • sneezing,
  • sore or scratchy throat,
  • painful swallowing (odynophagia),
  • cough (from laryngeal swelling and post nasal drip),
  • malaise, and
  • fever (more common in children).

Other less common symptoms may include

  • foul breath,
  • reduced ability to smell (hyposmia),
  • headache,
  • shortness of breath,
  • sinus pain,
  • itchy and watery eye (conjunctivitis),
  • nausea,
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea, and
  • body aches.

The symptoms of upper respiratory infection usually last between 3-14 days; if symptoms last longer than 14 days, an alternative diagnosis can be considered such as, sinusitis, allergy, pneumonia, or bronchitis.

Bacterial pharyngitis (strep throat due to group A Streptococcus) may be considered if symptoms continue to worsen after the first week in the absence of runny nose, cough, or conjunctivitis. Prompt testing and initiation of appropriate antibiotics is important due to the risk of developing rheumatic fever, especially in children.

Epiglottitis is an upper respiratory infection in children that may have a more sudden onset of sore throat, feeling of a lump in the throat, muffled voice, dry cough, very painful swallowing, and drooling.

Upper respiratory infections in the lower part of the upper respiratory tract, such as, laryngotracheitis, are more commonly featured with dry cough and hoarseness or loss of voice. Barking or whooping cough, gagging, rib pain (from severe cough) are other symptoms and signs.

What are the risk factors for upper respiratory infection?

Some common risk factors for upper respiratory infection are:

  • physical or close contact with someone with a upper respiratory infection;
  • poor hand washing after contact with an individual with upper respiratory infection;
  • close contact with children in a group setting, schools or daycare centers;
  • contact with groups of individuals in a closed setting, such as, traveling, tours, cruises;
  • smoking or second-hand smoking (may impair mucosal resistance and destroy the cilia);
  • health care facilities, hospitals, nursing homes;
  • immunocompromised state (compromised immune system) such as, HIV, organ transplant, congenital immune defects, long term steroid use; and
  • anatomical abnormalities as in facial trauma, upper airway trauma, nasal polyps.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/17/2015

Source: MedicineNet.com

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