We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Upper Respiratory Infection?

By Amy Hunter
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An upper respiratory infection is an infection that develops in the nose and throat, and is also known as the common cold. The average upper respiratory infection lasts from one week to 11 days. If symptoms extend past 14 days, it may be time to see a doctor to rule out any complications. Upper respiratory infections are caused by one of over 200 viruses, such as the rhinovirus and parainfluenza virus. Upper respiratory infection symptoms include a sore throat, with or without a cough, and nasal congestion.

Upper respiratory infections typically clear up on their own, with no need for medical intervention. Symptoms of uncomplicated cases of upper respiratory infections can be treated with over the counter antihistamines and decongestants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Occasionally. A secondary bacterial infection may develop that requires an antibiotic.

People suffering from upper respiratory infections may develop laryngitis, or inflammation of the larynx. Laryngitis causes hoarseness and a raspy voice. In severe cases, the individual may lose his or her voice entirely. People suffering from laryngitis may also experience a sore throat, dryness in the throat, difficulty swallowing and coughing. Laryngitis is treated by resting the voice, drinking fluids, and avoiding cigarette smoke.

A more severe form of upper respiratory infection is influenza. The influenza virus tends to spread seasonally. The virus is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, propelling microscopic droplets into the air. Symptoms of influenza include fatigue, muscle aches, sore throat, fever, chills, coughing, and a headache. Pneumonia can develop as a complication of influenza.

Upper respiratory infections that linger past 10 days may develop into sinus infections. The virus responsible for the upper respiratory infection can damage the lining of the sinuses, causing inflammation. Symptoms of a sinus infection include pressure behind the eyes, alongside the nose, on the cheeks, or on one side of the head. People with sinus infections often experience headaches, bad breath, nasal congestion combined with thick secretions, coughing, and a fever.

At-home treatment for sinus infections include inhaling steam several times a day, either with a steam vaporizer or by leaning over a bowel filled with hot water, drinking water and warm tea to thin nasal secretions, and treating the pain with over the counter anti-inflammatory medication. If the pain persists, it may be necessary to visit a healthcare provider. A healthcare provider can prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection, as well as a nasal spray that contains steroids to reduce inflammation in the sinuses.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Sporkasia — On Jan 12, 2015

One of the best treatments I have found for colds and sinus infections is echinacea. What I like about this herb is that you can take it almost like a vitamin. Unless you are allergic to the herb, you can take it daily and it will hopefully promote overall good health. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Before the use of antibiotics became so popular, echinacea was one of the most widely used substances for upper respiratory infection treatment. At some point, I could see this being true again because of all of the potential drawbacks associated with using other kinds of medicines.

By Feryll — On Jan 12, 2015

@Laotionne - I don't know the reason, but I have problems with sinus infections, too. This is something that started a few years back and has been a problem on and off ever since then. I take some herbs that seem to help a bit, and with these I don't have to worry about taking antibiotics and potentially helping to create a super virus that is resistant to antibiotics.

You can go to a local health and nutrition store and ask about what types of herbs are good at preventing and fighting upper respiratory infection. The store will most likely have a good variety of products to choose from.

By Laotionne — On Jan 11, 2015

When I get a cold the end result is always a sinus infection. I don't know why I get them so often, but I do. When I go to the doctor she gives me antibiotics and they clear up the upper respiratory infection in short time, but I get so many sinus infections that I am worried about always taking antibiotics. I have read that antibiotics can actually make the infections return stronger and more difficult to get rid of than they were originally.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.