Upper Respiratory Infection ~ A Complete Guideline!

One of the commonest reasons why people visit doctors is due to infection in their upper respiratory system. It can happen to anyone at any time. But they mainly occur during winter and the fall.

The common cold is one well-known upper respiratory tract infection. Some of its common symptoms include as follows –

Sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion, fever, close contact, coughing and inflammation of the uvula, nares, hypopharynx, and pharynx!

Yet, Other Types of Acute Respiratory Illness Include –

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Common Causes of Upper Respiratory Infection –

Most upper respiratory tract contagions happen due to viral infection or bacterial infection. 

Those Bacteria Which Causes Acute Upper Respiratory Infection Include As Follows –

  • Chlamydia (Chlamydia pneumonia)
  • Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae (gonorrhoea)
  • Group C beta-hemolytic streptococci
  • Corynebacterium diphtheriae (diphtheria)

And Those Viruses Which Cause Acute Upper Respiratory Infection Are –

  • Coxsackievirus
  • Rhinovirus
  • Human Metapneumovirus
  • Adenovirus
  • Respiratory syncytial virus
  • Parainfluenza virus

How Contagious Is This Acute Upper Respiratory Infection Syndrome (URIS)?

As per ENT specialists- the acute upper respiratory infection syndrome (URIS) can be contagious. They spread from individual-to-individual mainly by coming in contact with a sick person or accidentally inhaling the respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes.

A person can transmit the infection if they touch their mouth, eyes, nose or come in contact with an object/surface having the virus. However, the severity of the ear infection and the incubation time varies from person-to-person.

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The Major Symptoms of Acute Upper Respiratory Infection Syndrome –

In most cases, the common symptoms of the acute upper respiratory infection include the following –

  • Rhinorrhea
  • Odynophagia
  • Nasal discharge – (which can change from white to green over a span)
  • Congestion
  • An irritating/stringing throat
  • Low-fever (mostly seen in children)
  • Experiencing difficulty in swallowing
  • Coughing (due to postnasal drip and from laryngeal inflammation)
  • Malaise
  • Foul breathing or shortage of breath
  • Headaches
  • Hyposmia (a problem in smelling)
  • Sinus infection
  • Conjunctivitis (watery, red and scratchy eyes)
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the body
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Allergy
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia

Ideally, these symptoms stay for 2-14 days. That being said, if your symptoms continue for more than 14 days, then you should see a certified doctor immediately.

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Who Are More At Risk?

Medically reviewed by Elaine K. Luo (MD in internal medicine) 

“Common cold is among those common infections which cause people to take sick leaves or visit their doctors. It starts as a slight discomfort. But with time and without medication, it worsens and takes the shape of something serious.

She further points out –

“Most URIS infection spreads from one person to another through the aerosol droplets or direct contact with a sick person. That’s why taking extra safety precautions are important. Or else the infection risks go up considerably.”

Situations Increases the Risk of Upper Respiratory Infection –

  • When you are in crowded conditions like hospitals, schools, workplace, day-care centres and even public buses
  • If you touch your mouth, eyes or nose after coming in contact with the virus secretion.

(Such microscopic viruses can survive in all types of surfaces, be it tables, doorknobs, countertops, bedsheets and even coffee bugs.)

  • When you come in contact with someone sick and then touch your noses, eyes, ears and mouth
  • If you don’t take extra precaution during the fall and winter seasons when individuals are more at risk of getting the infection
  • When a sick person coughs or sneezes without shielding their mouth or nose, and you accidentally inhale their contagious droplets
  • If your immune system is weak and you have a medical history of catching the common cold. You can  check How to Quickly Boost Immune System: Know the Truth

Seven Effective Home Remedies To Fight Acute Upper Respiratory Infection

If your symptoms stay for more than two weeks, visit a doctor and get a flu vaccine or appropriate medication. However, there are many effective home remedies available in Healthline media which you can try out as well.

1. Chicken Soup 

Other than being a delicious dish, studies show that it proves very effective in fighting off the symptoms of URIS. They come with lots of nutritional value which benefits your body and protects you from other forms of infection. Plus, it also keeps you hydrated.

2. Ginger 

Ginger too comes with lots of health benefits. Just add a few slices of ginger in warm water and drink every day. It will soothe your sore throat.

Some studies even show that 1-Gram of ginger can ward off other common symptoms like clinical nausea.

3. Garlic 

Regularly including garlic in your diet will help reduce your common cold /flu symptoms. It may even prevent you from getting sick at all.

Garlic is rich in a component known as Allicin. It comes with lots of antimicrobial properties which help fight off both URIs and other forms of bacterial and viral infections.

4. Honey 

Studies also show that honey is rich in antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Just adding 1-2 tbs. of honey in your regular tea helps soothe your sore throat. Studies even state that honey serves as an excellent cough suppressant.

In case of kids suffering from the common cold, feeding them 10 grams of honey before bedtime will ease their pain. Plus, it will also allow them to sleep more peacefully!

5. Foods Rich in Vitamin C 

Look to consume foods which are rich in vitamin C. Some popular options include oranges, grapefruits, leafy green vegetables, lemon/lime juice, etc.

Vitamin C rich food  boost up the body’s immune system and even provide relief from the common symptoms of an acute upper respiratory infection.

6. Echinacea 

Echinacea comes with flavonoids and anti-inflammatory properties which help improve the body’s immune system and lessen inflammation.

Drinking tea made by the Echinacea root, two times a day for a whole week will help reduce symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection.

7. Oregano

Oregano or oregano oil also effective in treating common symptoms of acute upper respiratory infection!

Those who use oregano as natural antibiotics also state that it as an effective antiviral and antibiotic herb. And it is regularly used to cure all types of bacterial and viral infections infection.

In addition to these home remedies; you can also perform saltwater gurgling, take vapour rubs and warm baths to reduce symptoms of cold or URIs.


Try out these home remedies whenever you can to reduce your URIs symptoms. And always consult with your doctor to come up with the best medication to reduce your upper respiratory infection.

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