Your Running Nose could be Upper Respiratory Tract Infection!

0
919

Upper respiratory infections are one of the most frequent causes for a doctor visit with varying symptoms ranging from runny nose, sore throat, cough, to breathing difficulty, and lethargy. Generally, upper respiratory infections are the most common illness leading to missing school or work.

A majority of upper respiratory infections are due to self-limited viral infections. Occasionally, bacterial infections may cause upper respiratory infections. Most often, upper respiratory infection is contagious and can spread from person to person by inhaling respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing. The transmission can also occur by touching the nose or mouth by hand or other object exposed to the virus.

What are the symptoms of upper respiratory infection?

Generally, the symptoms of upper respiratory infection result from the toxins released by the pathogens as well as the inflammatory response mounted by the immune system to fight the infection.

Common symptoms of upper respiratory infection generally include:

  • Nasal congestion,
  • Runny nose (rhinorrhea),
  • Nasal discharge (may change from clear to white to green)
  • Nasal breathing,
  • Sneezing,
  • Sore or scratchy throat,
  • painful swallowing (odynophagia),
  • cough malaise, and
  • Fever (more common in children).
  • Other less common symptoms may include
  • Foul breath,
  • Reduced ability to smell (hyposmia),
  • Headache,
  • Shortness of breath,
  • painful swallowing (odynophagia),
  • cough (from laryngeal swelling and post nasal drip),
  • malaise, and
  • Fever (more common in children).
  • Other less common symptoms may include
  • foul breath,
  • reduced ability to smell (hyposmia),
  • headache,
  • shortness of breath,

The symptoms of upper respiratory infection usually last between 3-14 days; if symptoms last longer than 14 days, make sure your doctor carries out an alternative diagnosis such as, sinusitis, allergy, pneumonia, or bronchitis.

What are the risk factors for upper respiratory infection?

Some common risk factors for upper respiratory infection are:

  • Physical or close contact with someone with a upper respiratory infection;
  • Poor hand washing after contact with an individual with upper respiratory infection;
  • Close contact with children in a group setting, schools or daycare centers;
  • Healthcare facilities, hospitals, nursing homes;

When should you seek medical care for upper respiratory infection?

Most people tend to diagnose and treat their symptoms at home without seeking professional medical care. A great majority of cases of upper respiratory infection are caused by viruses and are self-limited, meaning they resolve on their own spontaneously.

Visiting a doctor may be advisable if:

  • Symptoms last more than a couple of weeks,
  • Symptoms are severe and worsening,
  • There is difficulty breathing,
  • Swallowing is impaired, and
  • Upper respiratory infection is recurring.

Sometimes hospitalization may be necessary if 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  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).

What is the treatment for upper respiratory infection?

As described above, most cases of upper respiratory infection are caused by viruses and therefore, require no specific treatment and are self-limited. People with upper respiratory infections typically diagnose themselves and treat their symptoms at home without requiring doctor’s visit or prescription medications.

Rest is an important step in treating upper respiratory infections. Usual activities, such as, working and light exercising may be continued as much as tolerated.

Increased intake of oral fluids is also generally advised to keep up with the fluid loss from runny nose, fevers, and poor appetite associated with upper respiratory infections.

Treatment of the symptoms of upper respiratory infection is usually some of the most common upper respiratory infection or cold medications used to treat these symptoms are the following:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used to reduce fever and body aches.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) can be used for body aches and fever.
  • Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) are helpful in decreasing nasal secretions and congestions.
  • Nasal ipratropium (topical) can be used to diminish nasal secretions.
  • Cough medications (antitussives) can be used to reduce cough. Many cough medications are commercially available such as dextromethorphan, guaifenesin (Robitussin), and codeine all have shown benefits in reducing cough in upper respiratory infections.
  • Honey can be used in reducing cough.
  • Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) Actifed oral, phenylephrine (Neo-synephrine nasal) can be used to reduce nasal congestion (generally not recommended in children less than 2 years of age and not recommended for individuals with high blood pressure).
  • Oxymetazoline (Afrin) nasal solution is a decongestant, but should only be used for short-term.
  • Combination medications containing many of these components are also widely available over the counter.

Some cough and cold medicines can cause excessive drowsiness need to be used with caution in children younger than 4 years of age and the elderly.

Antibiotics are sometimes used to treat upper respiratory infections if a bacterial infection is suspected or diagnosed. These conditions may include strep throat, bacterial sinusitis, or epiglottitis. Antivirals may occasionally be recommended by doctors in patients who are immunocompromised (poor immune system). The treating doctor can determine which antibiotic would be the best option for a particular infection.

Some home remedies for upper respiratory infection

There are several methods that can simply be applied at home for relief of symptoms of upper respiratory infection.

Moist warm air can help soothe the oral and nasal passages that become more irritated with dry air. This can make breathing easier and nasal secretions looser and easier to discharge. Some simple ways to do this are:

  • Making steam in the shower by turning on the hot water (without going under it) and breathing the steamed air.
  • Drinking warm beverages (hot tea, hot chocolate, warm milk)
  • Using a vaporizer to create humidity in the room; and avoid cold, dry air if possible.

Nasal saline (salt water) can help with symptoms of nasal congestion. There are over the counter saline spray solutions available that can be used for this purpose. Simpler and more cost effective home-made salt water solution may also be considered. A forth of a teaspoon of salt can be added to 8 oz cup of room temperature water and stirred to dissolve. Using a bulb syringe or a small spray bottle, the solution may be applied in one nostril at time with slow inhalation and expelled with exhalation several times a day as needed.

Applying a warm pack (a warm well towel or wash cloth) to the face may also be used to treat symptoms of nasal congestion. This can be repeated every few hours as needed to relieve to the symptoms.

Salt water gurgles and lozenges may reduce throat irritation and dryness and can alleviate the symptoms of throat symptoms.

Sleeping in a semi-upright position may be helpful at time to reduce cough. A study has suggested that honey may be superior to dextromethorphan in reducing cough in children with upper respiratory infection.

Adequate hydration with water, juices, and non-caffeinated drinks can thin nasal secretions and replace the fluid losses.

www.doctorsmagazineng.com!

LEAVE A REPLY