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What is a Respiratory Infection?

March 18, 2024

What is a Respiratory Infection?

During the frigid winter months, it is common for people to get sick. For most people, the winter season is synonymous with the common cold. However, most are not aware that the common cold is a type of respiratory infection. A respiratory infection is defined as an illness related to breathing. This would involve your throat, sinuses, and lungs.

Despite being common, it is important to learn more about these infections. With proper knowledge, you will understand the causes of these types of illnesses and the symptoms you may experience.

What is an Upper Respiratory Infection?

Respiratory infections are divided into two categories. There are lower RTIs that affect your airways and lungs. On the other hand, there are also upper RTIs. An upper respiratory infection will affect your sinuses and throat. This type of infection is more common and is usually less severe.

These are the most known upper RTIs. Most likely, you have experienced one or more of these illnesses.

Common Cold

The common cold, otherwise known as viral rhinitis, is a contagious illness that affects millions of people every year. This type of illness will primarily affect your nose and throat. Typically, viral rhinitis will last for a week. While it can be treated at home, with over-the-counter medicine, you may want to visit a doctor.

It should be noted that you should avoid taking cold and cough medicines with ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is defined as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. By taking both together, you run the risk of potential side effects, such as a stomach ache. An example of ibuprofen is Advil. In addition, antibiotics will not be effective against the common cold, as it is a virus.

If you currently have a common cold, there are tips you should follow to treat yourself and prevent spreading to others.

  • You should avoid contact with others, as this illness is very contagious.
  • You should drink a great amount of water. A high fever can cause you to lose fluids, Therefore, drinking enough water will prevent you from getting dehydrated.
  • You should get plenty of rest and sleep. Of course, you should avoid overly strenuous activities.


Sinusitis is also known as a sinus infection. With this illness, your nasal passages will become swollen. This would result in excess mucus and facial pain. Many times, sinusitis is an aftereffect of the common cold. Whereas a cold may only last for a week, a sinus infection can last for up to 3 weeks.

You may be prescribed a saline nasal spray. This would alleviate inflammation and clear thick mucus. In addition, you can also be prescribed a decongestant. This can be in tablet or liquid form.

Similar to other upper RTIs, you should drink plenty of water and get enough rest and sleep.

In worse cases, if your sinusitis is not healing, you may want to visit an ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist.

What are Respiratory Infection Symptoms?

Depending on the type of respiratory infection, you may come across a plethora of symptoms.

Here are some common respiratory infection symptoms associated with sicknesses like the common cold and sinusitis:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Fever
  • Coughs
  • Sore throat

Here are the specific symptoms associated with sinusitis:

  • Facial pain
  • Swelling around the cheeks

For Lower RTIs, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Severe cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing

Feeling Unwell? Give Us a Visit

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and are concerned about RTIs, please visit us at BASS Primary Care. There is no need to schedule an appointment, as walk-ins are welcome.

Our team of in-house doctors would love to treat you to the fullest of their abilities. We are open Monday to Friday from 7 AM to 5:30 PM. Give us a call at 925-962-9120, or make an appointment online today.

At BASS Primary Care Walk-in Clinic, it's Your Health, Your Schedule.