Any viral infection of the ears, nose, sinuses, or throat is referred to as an upper respiratory infection, or a URI.
These types of infections can be spread through direct contact, a cough, or a sneeze. While the most typical URI is the common cold, sinus infections, sore throat, and ear infections are other examples of URIs that can arise.
URIs frequently affect individuals mostly during fall and winter months, when the weather cools down. However, they can also happen in the spring and summer months. Most of the time, a URI is no big deal and goes away on its own within a week or so. Unfortunately, there are cases that may require medical attention or even some form of surgery.
Your McAllen certified physician assistant Jonathan Lerma and his team of sinus relief specialists at the Glatz Group of Valley ENT are here to help you understand what causes respiratory infections and offer some solutions.
If you have an upper respiratory infection, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion or stuffiness
- Sore throat
- Dry cough
- Low-grade fever
- Mild body aches or fatigue
You can also have these symptoms with other conditions such as the flu, allergies or a bacterial infection. Most upper respiratory infections last from a few days to two weeks and cause no lasting issues.
What Causes Upper Respiratory Infections?
Many upper respiratory infections are caused by viruses. In fact, over 200 viruses can lead to symptoms similar to a cold. You’re more likely to suffer from an upper respiratory infection in the winter months when you spend more time indoors. Being in close contact with people who are sick also increases your risk.
Unfortunately, the viruses that cause upper respiratory infections are contagious and can spread easily from person to person, and can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours. Viruses can also access your nose and throat through the air, when someone with an upper respiratory tract infection coughs or sneezes near you.
Although upper respiratory infections and colds are inconvenient and make you feel lousy, they’re not uncommon. The average adult gets two to four colds per year and children get twice as many. If it seems like your child always has a cold, you’re not imagining it!
Treatment Options for URIs
Treatment for a URI usually involves limiting discomfort. The following things can help lessen the severity or duration of the symptoms:
- Applying petroleum jelly to sore regions, which may include the lips and nostrils
- Avoiding smoky or fume-filled areas
- Avoiding steep temperature changes
- Drinking plenty of fluid
- Increasing indoor humidity
- Resting as much as possible
- Using soft tissues when blowing the nose
Some over-the-counter medicines may also help adults with URI symptoms. These include:
- brompheniramine (Bromfed)
- chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton)
- diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
- acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- ibuprofen (Advil)
- oxymetazoline (Afrin)
- phenylephrine (Sudafed PE)
- pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
Some people use home remedies to help alleviate URI symptoms. These include:
- Garlic, especially when raw
- Honey, especially in hot ginger or lemon tea
- Lemon juice and lemon tea
- Root ginger in hot water
If your symptoms do not subside after a week or so or worsen over time, see an ENT specialist. Your McAllen ENT at Glatz Group can conduct a thorough exam and determine if the URI is a sign of a more serious condition like bronchitis, pneumonia, or allergies.
In the event that this is the case, antibiotics or an alternative treatment might be necessary. Many patients experience an improvement in their allergies after balloon sinuplasty, a minimally invasive procedure we provide at our office.
There are several ways you can minimize your risk of catching a URI.
Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water to prevent the spread of germs. Also, stay away from anyone who has a URI and wipe down doorknobs, countertops, and other frequently touched surfaces. In addition, do not smoke or vape, and use a tissue to cover your mouth any time you cough or sneeze.
Feel Better and Breathe Better With the Glatz Group of Valley ENT
Given the current circumstances of COVID-19, we still offer alternative options to have your symptoms addressed, including telemedicine.
For in-person appointments, your safety and comfort come first. For the peace of mind of all of our loyal patients and staff members, we’re taking all possible precautionary measures to protect our clients and team from the spread of COVID-19.
Don’t ignore your respiratory infection if it persists. Feel like yourself again after stopping by The Glatz Group of Valley ENT!