Everything You Should Know About Upper Respiratory Infection (URIs)

Everything You Should Know About Upper Respiratory Infection (URIs)

May 25, 2020

What is URI?

It is a viral infection that usually affects the airways, larynx, pharynx, nose, and throat. It is a common respiratory infection, which is why it is popularly known as the common cold. Ideally, the infection happens when a virus makes way into your body, usually through the nose or mouth. This infection can last between 3-15 days before it clears out.

Ideally, the illness is very communicable. It can spread from one person to another through sneezing, coughing, and even touch. While the illness is nothing to worry you too much, you have to take measures to control it. If you let it sit in for too long, the illness can progress into another serious respiratory condition like viral pneumonia or sinus infections.

How It Is Diagnosed

URI is not hard to diagnose. In fact, most patients self-diagnose, because of the clear signs and symptoms. The signs and symptoms include some of the following:

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Discomfort in the nasal cavity
  • Nasal congestion
  • Excessive mucus
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Mild chills and fever – these are often common among children. Sometimes it means chills and no fever
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Bad breath
  • Chest cold

That said, diagnosis is still important. A doctor will examine your medical history to determine whether or not this is a repeat infection. Besides that, physical exams and tests are necessary parts of the diagnosis. You can expect tests like throat swab and x-rays of your chest and lateral neck region.

Causes of Upper Respiratory Infection

The major underlying cause of URIs is usually viral. You are most likely to catch the infection if you are around someone who has it. Most times, you breathe in the virus, while other times, you touch the fluids containing the infection. Other than that, you can only consider the risk factors that could cause the infection, rather than the cause itself.

What Are The Risk Factors?

The risk factors for the common cold are many. They include the following:

  • Poor hygiene – it happens if you do not wash your hands regularly.
  • Being in crowded places – while this is almost impossible to avoid, you must find a way to protect yourself. Crowded places include airports, office gatherings, buses, and other public transport systems, to mention a few.
  • From the hospital – whether you are visiting a loved one or checking in for check-ups, the hospital is a pretty good place to catch the virus.
  • Smoking – especially second-hand smoking.
  • Removal of tonsils – they may not seem valuable to you, but they are the first line of defense for your immune system. If they are removed, your immune system regarding infections that come through the mouth or nose is compromised.
  • Weakened immune system
  • When the humidity is low – inside temperatures favor the growth of viruses.

How Long Do Upper Respiratory Infections Last?

If you haven’t yet decided to visit a treatment center, it means that your infection is clearing out. Generally, a URI should last as long as 2 weeks. This does not mean that the symptoms worsen with time. Rather, it should take between 3-14 days for you to be free of the infection. If it is taking longer than that, perhaps it is time to talk to a doctor about your condition. Besides, this will also depend on whether or not you are taking measures to improve your health status. For example, if you are still exposed to the person who gave you the cold, you have lesser chances of getting better quickly. This is why you must seek treatment.

Can You Prevent Infection?

Fortunately, the common cold is one of those health problems that you do not have to get. With proper precautions, you can safeguard your health at all times. Some preventive measures you can employ include:

  • Washing your hands on the regular – clean hands is paramount for excellent health.
  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough
  • Cut down on smoking – especially second-hand smoking.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Watch what you eat when you are around other people.

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