Upper Respiratory Tract Infection: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Upper Respiratory Tract Infection:  Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Publish on 2020-03-17

An upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) is an infection that affects the nasal passage and throat. The upper respiratory tract includes:

  • Nasal passages
  • Sinuses
  • Larynx
  • Pharynx

An upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) occurs when there is an infection in any component of the URTI. Most frequently, this refers to the common cold, which occurs when there is an infection in the sinuses located around the nose.

Upper respiratory infections are the most common reason for visits to a general physician in Dubai. It is particularly common during cold weather, in the autumn and winter seasons.

URTI’s are generally easily treatable and do not require antibiotics or intensive medical treatment. However, it can be spread to others through physical contact or droplets of the infected mucus via coughing or sneezing.

Fortunately, in most cases, simple hygiene techniques such as proper handwashing, covering of the mouth while sneezing can prevent the spread of the infection.

While upper respiratory tract infections are generally complication-free, in some cases it may escalate to more serious conditions such as pneumonia.


The causes for an URTI can be bacteria or viruses. In most cases, the causes of an URTI are viral. It is contracted by inhaling droplets of the infected mucus or saliva when an infected person is coughing or sneezing. It may also be contracted by touching a surface that contains droplets of the infected mucus.

There are hundreds of common cold viruses that can cause URTIs.

In addition, other factors that may cause upper respiratory tract infections may include:

  • Not washing hands frequently
  • Improper or  ineffective handwashing techniques
  • Contact with infected individuals
  • Crowded places such as buses, classrooms, or airports
  • Damage to the nasal cavity
  • Removal of tonsils or adenoids
  • Difficulty breathing

If you have any of the above mentioned risk factors, and are experiencing symptoms of an URTI, then book an appointment with a General Medical Practitioner in order to correctly diagnose your condition.


The most common symptoms of an URTI are the following:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Excess mucus production
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Scratchy or sore throat
  • Fever
  • Discomfort or blockage in the nasal passage


In some cases, patients may also experience the following additional symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Pressure or pain in the head and face
  • Body aches
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath
  • Itchy or watery eyes

If you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms, contact and book an appointment with a General Practitioner. You may be diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection.


Upper respiratory infections are self-limiting, meaning that they can often be resolved without extensive medical treatment. That being said, treatment for URTIs are usually to relieve symptoms and discomfort that are associated with the infection. Visiting a general practitioner will provide a correct diagnosis and symptom-relieving treatment.

At-home treatments for limiting discomfort in an upper respiratory tract infection include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Consuming vitamin C
  • Getting plenty of rest
  • Gentle steam inhalation
  • Gargling with warm salt water
  • Applying petroleum jelly to sore nose or lips
  • Avoiding blowing your nose with a rough tissue
  • Acetaminophen to relieve fever, body pain, and headaches


In some cases, upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) can escalate to more severe medical conditions, such as pneumonia. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, then seek medical attention from a general physician promptly:

  • Symptoms persisting for more than a few weeks
  • Symptoms worsening
  • Recurring infection over a short period of time
  • Extreme difficulty in breathing

Such symptoms are indicative of a more severe medical condition that requires advanced medical treatment.


Dr. Onur Gozen is a highly-reputed general physician in Dubai, with extensive experience in treating patients for various ailments, including upper respiratory tract infections. Therefore, if you are experiencing URTI-related symptoms, then book an appointment with general practitioner Dr. Onur Gozen at the German Heart Centre, for the best available medical attention.


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