Upper Respiratory Infection (cont.)
Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH
Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Upper respiratory infection facts
- What is an upper respiratory infection?
- Is an upper respiratory infection contagious?
- What are the causes of upper respiratory infection?
- What are the risk factors for upper respiratory infection?
- What are the symptoms of upper respiratory infection?
- When should you seek medical care for upper respiratory infection?
- How is an upper respiratory infection diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for upper respiratory infection?
- What are some of the home remedies for upper respiratory infection?
- What are some data on alternative therapies in treating upper respiratory infections?
- What are the complications of an upper respiratory infection?
- Can an upper respiratory infection be prevented?
- What is the outlook for a patient suffering from an upper respiratory infection?
- Common Cold Prevention Slideshow
- Sinusitis Slideshow
- Take the Common Cold Quiz
- Find a local Family Physician in your town
What are the complications of an upper respiratory infection?
Some of the common complications of upper respiratory infections are the following:
- respiratory compromise from epiglottitis;
- secondary infection by bacteria (viral infection can cause impairment of the physical barrier in the respiratory airways making it easier for bacteria to invade) resulting in bacterial sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia;
- formation of abscesses in the tonsils;
- rheumatic fever from strep throat;
- spread of infection from sinuses to the brain (meningitis);
- involvement of the ears resulting in middle ear infections (otitis media);
- worsening of underlying chronic lung disease (asthma, COPD);
- spread of infection to the heart (pericarditis, myocarditis);
- spread of the infection to the brain or the fluid around the brain causing encephalitis or meningitis; and
- muscular pain and rib fractures from forceful coughing.
Can an upper respiratory infection be prevented?
There are several measures hat can reduce the risk of infections in general. Smoking cessation, reducing stress, adequate and balanced diet, and regular exercise are all measures that can improve the immune system and reduce the overall risk of infections. Breastfeeding also helps strengthen the immune system of infants by transferring the protective antibodies from the mother's milk to the baby.
Other preventive measures to diminish the risk of spread of upper respiratory infections are:
- hand washing is especially encouraged during the cold seasons (fall and winter) or handling others with the infection;
- reducing contact with people who may have the infection (people may carry and spread the virus a few days before they have symptoms and a few days after their symptoms have resolved);
- proper cleaning of common objects (fomites) that are touched by individuals who may be infectious such as, telephones, refrigerator door, computers, stair railings, door handles, etc.;
- covering mouth and noise when coughing or sneezing; and
- vaccination with flu vaccine as recommended for certain people (elderly, people with chronic medical conditions, health care workers, etc.).
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