Upper Respiratory Infections

What is an upper respiratory infection?

An upper respiratory infection is an infection of the sinuses, nasal passages, pharynx (the throat), or larynx (voice box). Common upper respiratory infections include rhinitis (inflammation of the nasal cavity), the common cold, sinus congestion and/or postnasal drip, pharyngitis, and laryngitis.

In the United States, upper respiratory infections are the most common illness leading to missing school or work, and are one of the most frequent causes of visits to healthcare providers. Although upper respiratory infections can happen at any time, they most frequently occur in fall and winter.

What are the symptoms of an upper respiratory infection?

Common symptoms include runny nose, nasal congestion and discharge, sneezing, sore/scratchy throat, cough, fatigue, and fever. Less common symptoms include reduced ability to smell, headache, shortness of breath, sinus pain, itchy and watery eyes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bad breath, and body aches. Symptoms usually last between 3 and 14 days.

What is the treatment for an upper respiratory infection?

Most cases of upper respiratory infection are caused by viruses and therefore do not benefit from antibiotics. The following self-care should be undertaken:

  • Get more rest, at least 8 hours a day. You may work and engage in light exercising unless it causes significant discomfort.
  • Increase fluid intake, at least 8-10 glasses of water per day.
  • You may treat the symptoms with acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) or ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, Motrin) to reduce body aches and fever. Cough medicines and decongestants may be used as needed. Read the labels to determine if the product is safe for you or your child.

Visit Healthcare Clinic if your symptoms are more severe or you are at risk for complications.

This treatment is available at Healthcare Clinic locations for patients 18 months and older.

If you believe you have a medical emergency,  please call 911.

Patient care services provided by Take Care Health Services, an independently owned professional corporation whose licensed healthcare professionals are not employed by or agents of Walgreen Co. or its subsidiaries, including Take Care Health Systems, LLC. Privacy Practices