Uncomplicated Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

Uncomplicated Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

Uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are the most common illnesses that affect both children and adults. URTIs include a wide range of illnesses, such as strep throat, tonsillitis, sinusitis, the common cold, and more. URTIs are caused by viruses and bacteria, and the most common symptoms are sore throat, cough, nasal congestion and discharge, headache, and fever.

Most URTIs will resolve without medical treatment in 10-14 days, but unfortunately, some can become more severe or chronic. So it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a more serious infection, such as an ear infection, sinusitis, or bronchitis.

Signs and Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of URTIs include:

  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion and discharge
  • Headache
  • Fever (generally less than 101°F)
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue

These signs and symptoms can vary in severity, depending on the type of infection and if it is bacterial or viral. Bacterial infections usually cause a higher fever that lasts longer, and respond better to antibiotics. Viral infections, on the other hand, generally don’t require antibiotics. If you have severe symptoms or your symptoms are lasting more than 10-14 days, call your doctor.

Treatment and Prevention

Most URTIs can be successfully treated at home with over-the-counter medications and home remedies. These may include:

  • Pain and fever reducers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Decongestants
  • Salt water gargles
  • Nasal sprays
  • Plenty of rest and fluids
  • Humidifiers and steam

To help prevent URTIs, it’s important to practice good hygiene. This includes washing your hands regularly, avoiding contact with people who are sick, and avoiding touching your face, eyes, and nose. It’s also important to get exercise, maintain a healthy diet, and get adequate sleep.