"Upper Respiratory Tract Infections" (URIs) is a term used to describe acute infections involving the nose, para-nasal sinuses, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), windpipe (trachea), and airways (bronchi). Most URTIs occur more frequently during the cold winter months, because of overcrowding. Adults develop an average of 2 to 4 colds annually2. They're usually caused by viruses, but can be caused by bacteria1.
Common upper respiratory tract infections include1:
- the common cold,
- tonsillitis – infection of the tonsils and tissues at the back of the throat,
- sinusitis – infection of the sinuses,
- laryngitis – infection of the larynx (voice box),
A cough is the most common symptom of an upper RTI. Other symptoms include headaches, a stuffy or runny nose, a sore throat, sneezing and muscle aches1.
Sore throat and runny nose are usually the first signs of a cold, followed by coughing and sneezing. Most people recover in about 7-10 days. Common colds are the main reason that children miss school and adults miss work. However, people with weakened immune systems, asthma, or respiratory conditions may develop serious illness, such as pneumonia. Many different viruses can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common.
You can help reduce your risk of getting a cold: wash your hands often and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands3.