Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Author: Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH
    Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH

    Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideAsthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications

Asthma Symptoms, Causes, and Medications

What are some data on alternative therapies in treating upper respiratory infections?

Many alternative and cultural remedies are used in treating upper respiratory infections.

Herbal teas including elm bark and licorice root are thought to relieve sore throat and some studies have suggested benefits compared to placebo. Long-term use of these remedies has not been evaluated; however, prolonged use of licorice may cause elevation of blood pressure.

As noted above, honey has been shown to be beneficial in suppressing cough in children with upper respiratory infection and its use in hot water or tea with lemon juice is not uncommon. Ingestion of honey in infants, however, is not recommended as they are not able to properly digest the spores in honey which can result in infections.

Echinacea is another herbal remedy commonly used in treating upper respiratory infection. Research data failed to prove any significant benefit in altering the duration and severity of upper respiratory infection symptoms when Echinacea was used in children between 2-11 years of age as compared to placebo.

Oral zinc supplementation has been used in recent years to shorten the duration and reduce the severity of symptoms of upper respiratory infection and common cold. This therapy has been studied in children with upper respiratory infection and the results are mixed. The FDA has not approved the use of oral zinc to treat the common cold or upper respiratory infections. There are reports of nausea and unpleasant taste caused by oral zinc.

Topical nasal zinc products (Zicam nasal gel) has been also used to attenuate the symptoms of upper respiratory infection. Some studies suggest loss of the sense of smell (anosmia) associated with the use of this over the counter product. Therefore, the FDA recommended discontinuation of the use of intranasal zinc products in 2009.

The use of oral vitamin C is thought to shorten the duration of upper respiratory infection symptoms, but research data are inconclusive regarding the benefits of vitamin C.

Reviewed on 7/17/2015
References
REFERENCE: Meneghetti, A. et al. "Upper Respiratory Tract Infection." Medscape. Apr 07, 2014

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