Easily communicable to people of all ages and walks of life, an upper respiratory infection, common cold, or the flu affect millions of people yearly, particularly during the fall and winter. Education helps people navigate this nuisance viral infection and avoid potentially dangerous complications.
The Causes Of Upper Respiratory Infection
Millions of children, teens, adults, and senior adults struggle with and through upper respiratory infections, or URIs, annually in the United States. In fact, research shows that school-age kids have at least six to eight upper respiratory infections every cold and flu season.
URIs are caused by viruses spread to other people through respiratory droplets (coughs and sneezes) and through direct contact with secretions on hard surfaces, such as bathroom faucets, desktops, doorknobs, and more. The closer the contact a person has with an infected individual, the more likely it is they will touch or inhale the microorganisms.
Plus, if the immune system is compromised, as is the case with the very young, the elderly, and cancer patients, infections happen more quickly and easily. Complications, such as pneumonia, sepsis, and more, are potentially serious.
Unfortunately, the flu and the common cold have no known cures. Typically, they limit themselves, and persons who are generally healthy recover with rest, fluids, and ibuprofen or Tylenol for fever and body aches.
Stages and Symptoms of an Upper Respiratory Infection
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that an upper respiratory infection has an incubation period of a few days. During this time, the virus is multiplying within the mucus membranes of the host (human). After incubation, there are these stages of illness:
- Prodromal phase
The individual has plenty of active microorganisms onboard and actually can spread them to other people. However, the infected person is asymptomatic for a limited amount of time (doesn’t look or feel sick).
- Symptom improvement, or decline
The sick individual will feel and look better. However, the virus still can spread to others.
Symptoms of the URI resolve, and the individual is no longer contagious.
The last three phases last 7 to 10 days. If they persist or worsen, visit your primary care physician for a diagnosis and treatment of possible complications.
Risk Factors for Upper Respiratory Infection
People who have asthma and seasonal allergies (allergic rhinitis) get more upper respiratory infections than the general population. Age (young or old) plays a role, too, as well as being in a setting where close contact is the norm. Daycare centers are a common example.
Additionally, people who smoke get colds and the flu more easily as do those who are immunosuppressed due to an autoimmune defect or cancer treatment.
The best advice your health care provider can give regarding URIs is to get the flu vaccine, stay out of crowds, and if you begin feeling ill, rest and stay home.
Comprehensive Care for Acute and Chronic Health Conditions in Sarasota and Bradenton, FL
In Sarasota and Manatee counties, Intercoastal Medical Group has nine convenient locations and over 100 highly skilled physicians on staff. We offer a wide range of specialties, including primary care, pulmonology, cardiology, allergy & asthma, and more.
To arrange an in-person consultation, please call our office nearest you. Also, you can book an appointment online through our website. Let us help you be well and stay well!