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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Upper Respiratory Infection
      Category : Health Centers > Respiratory System (Lungs and Breathing)

Upper Respiratory Infection

Alternate Names : URI

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

The upper part of the respiratory system includes the ears, nose, sinuses, mouth, and throat. It also includes the main bronchi or windpipes, which are the air-carrying tubes in the chest. The upper respiratory system is the most commonly infected area in the body.

What is going on in the body?

The term upper respiratory infection (URI) includes the common cold, sore throats, and flu. URIs are usually caused by a virus but may also be due to bacteria or other organisms. An upper respiratory infection is rarely serious but often causes bothersome symptoms.

What are the causes and risks of the infection?

There are many different types of upper respiratory infections, including:

  • the common cold, usually due to a virus
  • the flu, or influenza virus infection, which causes more severe symptoms than a cold
  • acute sinusitis or chronic sinusitis, which involve the nasal sinuses
  • otitis externa, or infection of the outer ear
  • acute otitis media, or infection of the middle ear behind the eardrum
  • pharyngitis, or sore throat
  • acute bronchitis, an infection in the lower windpipes
  • croup, which is a viral infection of the main windpipe that is usually only seen in children
  • epiglottitis, a bacterial infection of the main windpipe that is more commonly seen in children
  • Other types of URI may also occur, but they are less common.


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    Upper Respiratory Infection: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/13/01

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