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Diagnosis, Treatment of Upper Respiratory Tract Infection & its Prevention

Diagnosis of Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

While a person is being tested or diagnosed for having any upper respiratory tract infection some of the other diseases should also be tested for as they have the similar symptoms in the beginning. The diseases are:

The tests when show negative for these diseases then the doctor finds out the infection that is in you. The usual signs that a doctor looks for when diagnosing upper respiratory tract infection are redness in the nasal cavity, swelling of the nasal cavity, redness and swelling of the tonsils, facial tenderness which happen when a person has sinusitis, secretions by the tonsils which are white, lymph nodes around the head and the neck which are swollen up or has got enlarged, higher body temperature, hoarseness in voice and foul breath. Laboratory tests are avoided when you have an upper respiratory tract infection since the virus causing the infection has no specific test to be identified and there is no specific treatment for each kind of virus.

Blood test and imaging are often avoided in the diagnosis of upper respiratory tract infection. The imaging can find out if you have a swollen epiglottis and thus no swelling may make the doctor avoid the option of you having epiglottitis. CT scan at times helps the doctor to understand how much inflammation has occurred within the neck or how far the sinus infection has been spread when the symptoms increase up to protruding eyes and visual changes. Here the doctor can see the eye cavity of the brain and thus treat accordingly.

Treatment for Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

Treatment for Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

Usually the upper respiratory tract infection does not always need to be treated medically. You might not always require visiting a doctor until the symptoms are prolonging for too long and are worsening. There are home remedies that can be done to cure you from these infections. Some of them are:

  • Taking rest is the first step. If you stop exhausting yourself, you will get better soon.
  • Taking lots of drinks can help you maintain the body fluid level when you have a runny nose. Hot drinks will also provide help to your swollen throat.
  • Taking good food is important to recover from the weakness that you feel. Gargeling with warm water will also help your throat.

Even then if the symptoms persist then you can take medicines to get better. Some of the most used medicines for treating upper respiratory tract infection are:

  • Paracetamols containing acetaminophen which bring down the fever and the body pains can help in treating upper respiratory tract infection.
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines which do not contain steroids which help to bring down the inflammation in the throat and work well for body pains too.
  • Antihistamine containing medicines or syrups can reduce the watering of nose, nasal discharges and clear congestions in the throat.
  • To reduce nasal discharges and secretions you can use nasal ipratropium.
  • There are many medicines and syrups for cough which help to bring down the coughing. Different syrups work for dry and wet coughs.
  • Honey gives relief to the throat and prevents coughing and relieve upper respiratory tract infection.
  • For strong and painful swelling steroids like decadron can be sued.
  • There are many medicines which contain decongestants like oxymetazoline (which should be used only for a small period of time) that help to clear the nose and the throat from being blocked.

The medicines for upper respiratory tract infection have some side effects like it makes people especially children drowsy. Antibiotics are referred when the symptoms prevail for long and these antibiotics fight with the virus then. The use of antibiotics is prescribed by the doctors when the patient develops symptoms of strep throat or sinusitis caused by bacteria. The antivirals are another kind of strong medicines which are suggested or prescribed by the doctors to fight the upper respiratory tract infection for the patients who have a very low immunity system. These medicines should only be taken when prescribed by a doctor. There can be several side effects for these medicines. Antibiotics always come with side effects and not all of the antibiotics may suit you. The antibiotics can thus develop some other kind of illness in you if you consume them without knowledge. Epinephrine in the form that can be inhaled is used for children to avoid or reduce respiratory spams. Surgery is mostly avoided until the case is very critical. Only very serious sinus infection that has damaged the respiratory tract and formed abscesses in the throat or the tonsils could lead to the surgical way of treating.

Risk Factors for Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

The few of the most common risk factors for upper respiratory tract infection:

  • Being in direct physical contact with the patient suffering from the infection is a major risk factor for upper respiratory tract infection.
  • Not washing hands after touching an infected person or any object of daily use which is also used by the patient.
  • Being in close contact with the children or the babies with infection.
  • Smoking and passing the smoke on.
  • Having illnesses like HIV which destroys the immunity.
  • Hospitals and other facilities where different patients are treated.
  • Any defect or anatomical trauma.

Prevention of Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

To prevent upper respiratory tract infection from any kind of bacterial infection or virus attack you need to have a strong immunity system. Breast feeding is very important for the child as it develops immunity in the baby. Also if you avoid smoking, taking stress and you exercise and eat healthy to keep yourself fit, your immunity will be strong.

Some of the basic rules or methods to avoid upper respiratory tract infections (as they are often contagious) are:

  • Always clean your hands especially after being in contact with any person who is infected and maintain clean hands especially during the winter or times of seasonal change to prevent upper respiratory tract infection.
  • Try to keep away from an infected person so that you do not inhale the bacteria. Also maintain the same if you notice the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection.
  • To prevent upper respiratory tract infection, clean the objects which are used by all like the telephones, the door of the refrigerator, etc… clean.
  • Always take vaccine dosages for avoiding flu if you have previous medical history of strong illnesses
  • Always cover your mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing and use a handkerchief to avoid spreading the virus.

Prognosis/Outlook for Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

The prognosis/outlook for upper respiratory tract infection is excellent. The prognosis may be less in the favour of the people who suffer from low immunity system or are easily attacked by bacteria. Other than that the virus causing these infections can be avoided or taken care of when it attacks you and there would be any serious effects.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 4, 2023

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