What is an upper Respiratory Infection?

What is an upper Respiratory Infection?

An upper respiratory infection also called an upper respiratory tract infection, is an infectious condition that affects any of the components of the upper airway. The top section of your respiratory system, comprising your sinuses and throat which carry air from the outside to the trachea, which then carries it to the lungs, where humans breathe, is affected by an upper respiratory infection.

Types of Upper Respiratory Infection:

There are various types of infections that can occur in the upper respiratory system which can be identified specifically. Some of the common infections include inflammation of the nasal cavity (rhinitis), sinus infection, common cold, pharyngitis, epiglottitis, and laryngotracheitis i.e., inflammation of the larynx and trachea.

Causes of Upper Respiratory Infection:

Upper respiratory tract infections can occur at any time, but they are more common during fall and winter, from September to March.  It is because in winters there is low humidity and viruses tend to thrive in such conditions. There are some other reasons as well like interacting with an infected person who is already sick and then touching our mouth, eyes, or nose. The germs then enter our bodies.

Although upper respiratory tract infections can infect anyone there are certain age groups who are at higher risk of being infected. They are children and people who are already suffering from lung or heart issues and have weak immune systems. Because children don’t wash their hands frequently and they also touch their mouth, nose, and eyes in a frequent manner letting germs enter their body.


Usually, it is very easy to diagnose upper respiratory tract infections because the symptoms are very common. A person suffering from upper respiratory infection may experience varying symptoms like:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Croaky voice
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling on your neck’s sides

Upper respiratory infections aren’t severe and have mild symptoms, they disappear in one or two weeks. However, sometimes they get worse and require special medical treatment. The symptoms which require serious medical attention are as follow:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fever higher than 103 F.
  • Difficulty in breathing or rapid breathing.
  • Severe coughing
  • You get a harsh raspy vibrating sound while breathing that sounds like a seal.


Your doctor will perform some normal tests to diagnose the severity of your infection before treatment. He /She will do your physical examination and look for the symptoms and they will examine your breathing. If your doctor isn’t satisfied after carrying out these tests, then he /she will advise you to have some more tests to confirm whether you have infections in the lungs or some other infections. The tests that can be carried out might include:

  • Chest X-ray
  • CT scan of lungs.
  • Sputum test
  • Nasal and throat gauze


There are some healthy tips that you can add to your lifestyle to avoid having upper respiratory infections.

  • Wash your hands frequently, before eating and making food.
  • Avoid contact with people who are already sick.
  • Sneeze and cough in a tissue paper and bin it.
  • Weak a mask.

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