An upper respiratory tract infection (URI) is a bacterial or viral infection of the nose, sinuses, or throat. Common symptoms of a URI are a runny or stuffy nose and a cough.
Examples of URIs include influenza (flu), a cold, and sinusitis.
Treatment for a URI is based on whether a doctor suspects it is caused by a bacteria or virus. If the cause is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are used. If the cause is a viral infection, home treatment is used, such as getting extra rest and drinking plenty of liquids.
Frequent handwashing, especially during cold or flu season, can help prevent URIs. People should also try to avoid using their hands to wipe their eyes, nose, or mouth. Avoiding smoking can also help.
Last Revised: September 20, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.