October 4, 2015

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Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

When should you seek medical care for upper respiratory infection?

Most people tend to diagnose and treat their symptoms at home without seeking professional medical care. A great majority of cases of upper respiratory infection are caused by viruses and are self-limited, meaning they resolve on their own spontaneously.

Visiting a doctor may be advisable if:

  • symptoms last more than a couple of weeks,
  • symptoms are severe and worsening,
  • there is difficulty breathing,
  • swallowing is impaired, and
  • upper respiratory infection is recurring.

Sometimes hospitalization may be necessary if upper respiratory infection is severe and causes significant dehydration, respiratory difficulty with poor oxygenation (hypoxia), significant confusion, lethargy, and worsening of shortness of breath in chronic lung and heart disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, congestive heart failure). Hospitalizations are much more common in children less than 2 years of age, elderly people (especially those with dementia), and immunocompromised individuals (weak immune system). Continue Reading

Reviewed on 7/17/2015
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