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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 hand-washing, 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: July 10, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
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