How to Spot an Upper Respiratory Infection

How to Spot an Upper Respiratory Infection

Spotting an upper respiratory infection early can lead to a quicker and easier recovery. In this article, we’ll explore how to spot an upper respiratory infection. What are the symptoms? Is it contagious? And what treatment options are available?

Respiratory tract infections are either bacterial or viral infections of the sinuses, throat, lungs, or airways. There are two types of respiratory infections: upper respiratory infections and lower respiratory infections.

Upper Respiratory Infection Symptoms

Upper respiratory infection symptoms typically include cough, fever, a hoarse voice, and fatigue or lack of energy. They may cause red eyes, a runny nose, a sore throat, and swelling in the lymph nodes on the neck.

Symptoms may vary depending on the exact bacteria responsible for the infection. For example, a sinusitis infection will primarily target the sinuses. Similarly, conditions like pharyngitis or laryngitis affect the throat or larynx more than the sinuses. No matter which areas the infections target, they’re all upper respiratory infections and have similar symptoms and pathologies.

Is An Upper Respiratory Infection Contagious?

So, is an upper respiratory infection contagious? Put simply, yes, upper respiratory infections are contagious. They pass from person to person through exhaled droplets or hand-to-hand contact.

Infection can happen from sneezing or coughing without covering the hands or mouth, therefore spreading aerosolized germs into the air. Sneezing or coughing into the hand and then touching someone else can also transfer microorganisms. If bacteria reaches another person, they can enter the body through the mouth, nose, or eyes.

Upper Respiratory Infection Treatment Options

If you have an upper respiratory infection, treatment is relatively straightforward. Oftentimes, most infections typically last one or two weeks and clear away on their own. Symptoms can be mitigated and treated with over-the-counter pain medications. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated.

The most frequent cause of an upper respiratory infection is a virus, which doesn’t respond to antibiotic treatments. Antibiotics are only prescribed for bacterial infections, like strep throat.

If symptoms last longer than two weeks, schedule an appointment to talk with your healthcare provider. They may check to see if other conditions are affecting you, like pneumonia or bronchitis.

You should contact your healthcare provider immediately if you suffer from severe symptoms or complications. These include symptoms like loss of consciousness, high fever (more than 103 F), difficulty breathing, and dizziness.

Most likely, your infection will be diagnosed based on a physical examination and your symptoms. Your provider will look closely at the nose, ears, and throat, and listen to your chest. Usually, more tests aren’t needed unless there are conflicting or unusual results. In these rare instances, your provider may ask for more tests, like lung x-rays or CT scans, or cultures from the affected areas.

Upper Respiratory Infection vs. Lower Respiratory Infection: What’s the Difference?

Each type of respiratory infection targets a different part of the respiratory system. Upper respiratory infections target the sinus and throat. These include diseases like the common cold, epiglottitis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, and sinusitis.

In contrast, lower respiratory infections affect the airways and lungs. Generally, these are longer-lasting and more dangerous than upper respiratory infections. Examples of lower respiratory infections are bronchitis, bronchiolitis, chest infection, and pneumonia.

Treat Your Upper Respiratory Infection with Help From BASS Urgent Care

Upper respiratory infections are generally straightforward to spot and even more straightforward to treat. Most patients respond to bed rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications. However, not all will. This is why it’s important to schedule a visit with a trusted provider.

BASS’s board-certified specialists are here to treat your infection and any complications that might arise from it. The BASS team is friendly, professional, and knowledgeable, and will help you find the best course of treatment.