Upper Respiratory Tract Infections


As we head deeper into the cold season, many flu-related conditions such as Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URI or URTI) are at their all-time high. URTI’s are a common ailment presenting itself in various forms, especially during the dreaded flu season, which are usually easily diagnosed and treated. However, more extreme cases untreated UTRI’s can progress into more serious conditions and complications and has even lead to deaths.

An Upper Respiratory Tract Infection is caused by various strains of bacteria and viruses and can be defined as acute infections to the areas included in the Upper respiratory tract including the larynx, the nose and sinuses.


URTI’s can come in the forms of: Tonsillitis, Laryngitis, Common cold, Pharyngitis, Rhinitis, Tracheitis, Epiglottitis, and sinusitis, which cause inflammation to various parts of the upper respiratory tract.

Symptoms of URTI’s

After initial exposure to the viruses that cause the UTRI, an incubation period of 1-3 days usually occurs. Thereafter, the common symptoms start presenting themselves. The illness itself typically lasts between 7-10 days.

These common symptoms include:

  • headache
  • runny nose
  • sneezing
  • facial pressure
  • low grade fever
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • nasal congestion
  • associated illnesses such as middle ear infection and conjunctivitis

High risk candidates and conditions for UTRI’s

  • Autumn to Winter are the seasons when UTRI’s are at their recorded highest.
  • Low humidity can increase the likelihood of UTRI’s being spread, especially when this is coupled with warmer conditions and congested environments,  such as indoor heating and crowded spaces. These form the ideal breeding ground for many of the bacteria and viruses involved. This is also why UTRI’s are most prevalent in among people who spend their days in offices, schools and other crowded, indoor, heated environments.
  • Close contact with infected people, since UTRI’s are spread from person to person via aerosol droplets of bodily fluids as well as direct skin-to-skin contact.
  • A weakened immune system and even mild sleep deprivation can increase the risk of infection.

Diagnosis and Treatment of UTRI

A doctor can usually detect a  UTRI through looking at the symptoms. Performing a standard throat swab will confirm the type of infection.

Should symptoms be more severe lateral neck X-rays as well as Chest X-rays and CT scans and are sometimes ordered to rule out other conditions or more severe symptoms.

Treatment of UTRI’s

This will be dependent on the type of viral or bacterial infection being dealt with as well as the severity of the symptoms and patient medical history.

Treatment usually comprises of symptomatic treatments to alleviate symptoms and support the immune system while it works to contain the infection.

Typical medications include decongestants, Analgesics and nasal sprays. In some cases, an anti-biotic may be prescribed if necessary.

Preventing The transmission of UTRI’s

  • Keep your immune system functioning at its best by getting enough rest, and eating healthily and getting moderate exercise.
  • Avoid excessive contact with infected parties where possible.
  • If infected, take care not to infect those around you.

Doctors-on-Call can help get you through you UTRI

Dealing with a UTRI is discomfort enough. Luckily, for those subscribed to the Doctors-on-call service can save themselves the hassle of having to go into hospitals or doctor’s offices. Mild to moderate UTRI’s are easily diagnosed and treated with an at-home visit. Should you need more extensive testing or treatment, you Doctor-on-call can quickly refer you a medical facility and arrange for you to be treated accordingly.