A Basic Overview of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
Most people have experienced an upper respiratory tract infection at one point in their lives. As implied, URTIs are diseases which are caused by exposure to an acute infection, and they primarily involve the upper section of the respiratory system. Generally, the symptoms of this class of infections include nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing and runny nose. In some cases, the affected individual may also experience fatigue, headaches, fever and difficulty swallowing. It is critical to understand URTIs because they are highly contagious and can affect anyone.
Common forms of URTls
The common forms of URTIs that you might encounter are rhinitis, tonsillitis and common cold. Rhinitis is also known as coryza, and it is essentially the inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane. Naturally, an affected person will have a stuffy or runny nose and is likely to sneeze a lot.
Tonsillitis is the swelling of tonsils which may be accompanied by the infection of the pharynx. The severity of the condition can vary widely, but the patient is likely to experience fever, difficulty swallowing and a sore throat. In complicated tonsillitis, an abscess may form necessitating surgical intervention.
You should note that URTIs can also affect the ears, the sinuses, and spread to the lower respiratory tract.
Causes of URTls
Viruses cause most upper respiratory tract infections. The most common ones include rhinovirus, adenovirus, influenza and enterovirus. Bacteria can also cause serious infections, and these usually cause pharyngitis and tonsillitis. Therefore, it is not advisable for patients to take antibiotics before a proper diagnosis is performed.
The microbial nature of the infections means that they can be easily spread from one person to another. You are at a higher risk of contracting an URTI if you are often in crowded areas, unhygienic environments or around people who are already affected.
Diagnosis and treatment
It's worth noting that URTIs are usually not dangerous on their own. However, if left untreated, they can lead to adverse complications and even chronic conditions. When you consult the doctor about treatment, they will conduct an examination. Most of the pertinent illnesses can be identified through an analysis of your medical history and a physical assessment. If more profound examination is required, the doctor might request for a throat swab, neck x-ray, and even a CT scan.
The treatment will depend on the type and severity of the condition. Since most infections are viral, the doctor will provide medicine to relieve the symptoms. These include nasal decongestants, cough suppressants and expectorants, vitamins and pain relievers. If the infection is bacterial, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent spread and complications.