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Upper Respiratory Infection (cont.)

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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.).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/15/2014

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Upper Respiratory Infection - Treatment Question: What treatment has been effective for your upper respiratory infection?
Upper Respiratory Infection - Contagious Question: Did you know your upper respiratory infection was contagious?
Upper Respiratory Infection - Symptoms Question: What were the symptoms of your upper respiratory tract infection?
Upper Respiratory Infection - Home Therapies Question: What home remedies were effective in reducing the symptoms of your upper respiratory infection?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/upper_respiratory_infection/article.htm

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