- Home Remedies
- When to See a Doctor
- Prognosis and Outlook
What is an upper respiratory infection?
An upper respiratory infection (URI) is typically referred to as the common cold. More than 200 different viruses can cause URIs. You can pick one up anywhere. They tend to strike seasonally during the late fall and winter months.
The sheer number of cold viruses makes it next to impossible for you to develop immunity against them.
Symptoms of an upper respiratory infection
The classic symptoms of an upper respiratory infection are:
Handling objects that someone with a URI has been in contact with may also infect you. Frequent hand washing is the best way to protect yourself from common cold infections.
Home remedies for an upper respiratory infection
Upper respiratory infections have no cure. Antibiotics have no effect on them. Antibiotics will help stop a bacterial infection. They will not treat your URI, which is a viral infection.
Treatment for an upper respiratory infection is usually just a matter of easing your symptoms. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and simply wait it out.
Some home remedies to help the cold pass through your body a little faster are:
Saline nasal sprays
Saline nasal sprays are safe for everyone, including children. They can be purchased at your pharmacy and may relieve your stuffy nose symptoms.
Do not confuse saline nasal sprays with nasal decongestant sprays. These can actually make your URI worse.
Humidifiers also work well for stuffy nose symptoms produced by URIs. A cool mist humidifier in your bedroom can normalize your breathing.
Talk to your doctor before you use one. Excessive humidity in the air can actually worsen allergies in some people.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines
Be careful. A side effect of acetaminophen is that it can cause liver damage if overused. Do not give acetaminophen to a child under the age of 6 unless your doctor advises it.
Your child will probably avoid eating when they have an upper respiratory infection. This might cause you some understandable anxiety, but you shouldn’t worry.
Doctors typically advise against forcing your child to eat when they have a URI. Let them eat when they’re hungry and reintroduce solid food gradually.
You or your child may be more inclined to drink than eat when you have a cold. This is a healthy impulse. Don’t ignore it.
Consider popsicles, warm soups, and broth in addition to increasing your water intake. All of these can be comforting when you have an upper respiratory infection.
Honey is highly recommended as a remedy for coughs and some other symptoms associated with URIs. Both children and adults benefit from mixing honey with boiling water to treat their acute coughs.
Do not give honey to an infant under the age of 1. Your baby should not consume honey at all.
When to see a doctor for an upper respiratory infection
The viruses that cause upper respiratory infections usually run their course within 10 days. Schedule an appointment with your doctor if your URI lasts longer than this. Persistent symptoms might indicate that something more serious is behind them.
There are also a few severe symptoms to watch out for during a cold, including:
- Painful breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- A fever of over 101 degrees Fahrenheit that lasts longer than two days.
If you notice any of these, at any stage of the illness, call your doctor.
Prognosis and outlook for an upper respiratory infection
Don’t be at all surprised if the symptoms of your upper respiratory infection get worse during the first three to five days. This is normal. You should see gradual improvement after that period. With or without treatment, most URIs run their course in less than two weeks.
Latest Cold and Flu News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota: "Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds)."
Cornell Health: "Caring for an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Upper Respiratory Infection (URI or Common Cold)."
Nationwide Children's: "Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds)."
National Health Service: "Honey, not antibiotics, recommended for coughs."
Piedmont Healthcare: "When to see a doctor for a cold."
University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Student Health Service: "Upper Respiratory Infection."
Top Best Home Remedies for Upper Respiratory Infection Related Articles
Respiratory Illnesses: 13 Types of Lung InfectionsIs your cough caused by a cold, flu, pneumonia or something else? Learn causes of respiratory infection like bronchitis, pneumonia, SARS, Coronavirus COVID-19 bird flu, and more.
Cold & Flu QuizAches? Pain? Fever? This Cold & Flu Quiz tests your knowledge on the difference between coming down with the common cold and sickness from influenza virus.
Cold or Flu: How Do You Know?Discover the difference between cold vs. flu symptoms. Learn the difference between cold and flu symptoms. Read about cold and flu treatments such as over-the-counter medicines.
Cold vs. FluThough the common cold and flu share many signs and symptoms, they are caused by different viruses. Signs and symptoms include sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, and cough. Treatment options for the cold and flu are similar and focus on reducing symptoms. Doctors may prescribe antivirals/neuraminidase inhibitors for the flu.
Cold Prevention SlidesThe common cold is arguably the most common human illness. Learn how long the common cold lasts, treatment for the common cold and ways to prevent it.
Common Cold QuizTake this quiz to learn the truth behind the infectious, contagious, uncomfortable disease known as the common cold. Test your knowledge of colds; get prevention tips, and learn what you may want to avoid when treating a cold!
Common Cold: Stages and Timeline of Symptom ProgressionThe common cold or viral rhinitis is an upper respiratory infection caused by several types of viruses. It is one of the most common infectious diseases affecting humans. A common cold may typically follow a certain pattern of progression that has four different stages.
Is It a Cold or a Sinus Infection?A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, is a condition in which the delicate membranes that line the sinuses may get swollen and become red. A cold or common cold is a viral infection. It affects the upper respiratory system, which includes the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs.
Natural Cold & Flu RemediesWhat natural remedies work for the flu and common cold? Many claim cold symptoms and flu symptoms can be relieved with Echinacea, zinc, neti pots, garlic, vitamin C, saltwater gargles, nasal strips, or bed rest. Find out what cold and flu treatments work the natural way, and what doesn't.
When Should You See a Doctor for Upper Respiratory Infection?What is an upper respiratory infection? Learn the symptoms of an upper respiratory infection and what to do about it.
Upper Respiratory Infection (URTI)An upper respiratory infection is a contagious infection of the structures of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the sinuses, nasal passages, pharynx, and larynx. Common causes of an upper respiratory infection include bacteria and viruses such as rhinoviruses, group A streptococci, influenza, respiratory syncytial, whooping cough, diphtheria, and Epstein-Barr. Examples of symptoms of upper respiratory infection include sneezing, sore throat, cough, fever, and nasal congestion. Treatment of upper respiratory infections are based upon the cause. Generally, viral infections are treated symptomatically with over-the-counter (OTC) medication and home remedies.