UPPER RESPIRATORY TREATMENT
One of the most common reasons for a visit to the doctor is an Upper Respiratory Infection, a viral infection that affects your nose, throat, and upper airways. Upper Respiratory Infections (URIs) are the cause of more missed days of work and school than from any other health related illness. Symptoms include nasal congestion, sneezing, fatigue or fever, wheezing, hoarseness, irritation in the tonsils, and coughing. They can occur any time throughout the year, but most often during the fall and winter months.
There are many viruses and bacteria that can cause URIs, the most frequent being the rhinovirus. URIs are contagious and can be spread in a variety of ways; including aerial through respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing, saliva through kissing, or touching through skin-to-skin contact or by coming into contact with objects contaminated by the virus.
Examples of these upper respiratory infections may include:
- Rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal cavity), sinus infection (sinusitis or rhinosinusitis) – inflammation of the sinuses located around the nose.
- Common cold (nasopharyngitis) – inflammation of the nares, pharynx, hypopharynx, uvula, and tonsils.
- Pharyngitis (inflammation of the pharynx, uvula, and tonsils).
- Epiglottitis (inflammation of the upper portion of the larynx or the epiglottis).
- Laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx).
- Laryngotracheitis (inflammation of the larynx and the trachea).
- Tracheitis (inflammation of the trachea).
Upper respiratory infections usually self-resolve, but can in some cases become more severe. If you suspect that you have an upper respiratory infection, visiting a doctor may be advisable if:
- Symptoms last more than a couple of weeks
- Symptoms are severe and worsening
- Difficulty breathing
- Swallowing is impaired
- Upper respiratory infection is recurring
Sometimes hospitalization may be necessary if the upper respiratory infection is severe and causes significant dehydration, respiratory difficulty with poor oxygenation (hypoxia), significant confusion, lethargy, and worsening of shortness of breath in chronic lung and heart disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD, congestive heart failure). Hospitalizations are much more common in children less than 2 years of age, elderly people (especially those with dementia), and immunocompromised individuals (weak immune system).