Upper respiratory organs include your sinuses and throat, any infection that affects these organs is called an upper respiratory infection. But Is upper respiratory infection contagious? How does it spread? 

Yes, Upper respiratory infections are contagious and spread from person to person by air, as the infectious droplets travel while sneezing or breathing and making hand-to-hand contact. 

Scroll down to dip down the detailed information about the spread of upper respiratory infection. 

What is a respiratory infection?

These infections affect your throat and sinuses, restricting your ability to breathe. It can affect your throat, sinuses, nose, and airways. These are divided into two categories:

Upper respiratory infection

You have an upper respiratory infection when your sinuses and throat are infected. These include the following: 

Lower respiratory infection

A lower respiratory infection is when your airways and lungs are affected. These include the following: 

  • Bronchitis: this is a lung infection that causes coughing and fever.
  • Bronchiolitis: this is a lung infection that mostly affects young children.
  • Chest infection.
  • Pneumonia.

Causes of upper respiratory infections –

An upper respiratory infection is usually caused by a bacteria or virus entering your respiratory system. The bacteria could be from an infected surface or a person by touch. Other causes include poor hygiene, frequently crowded spaces, and damaged airways or nasal cavity. 

Is upper respiratory infection contagious?

Yes, because an upper respiratory infection is caused due to bacteria that an infected surface or a person could pass on, they are considered highly contagious. To reduce the spread of upper respiratory infection following tips must be kept in mind:

  • Wear a mask if you have an upper respiratory infection to contain its spread. 
  • Ensure to cover your mouth when you sneeze.
  • Keep a sanitizer handy and use it before eating meals. 

Tips to prevent upper respiratory infection 

  • Practice proper hygiene, like washing hands before meals and using tissues while sneezing
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid smoking or drinking 

Treatments for upper respiratory infections: 

Treatments include medication such as:

  1. Pain relief medication: Tylenol, Advil 
  2. Decongestants such as Afrin, Sudafed PE, Sudafed
  3. Antihistamines such as Bromfed, Chlor-trimeton, Benadryl 
  4. Applying vapor rubs such as Vicks 

Some home remedies can also help relieve the symptoms of upper respiratory infections, such as 

  • Consuming raw garlic, 
  • Hot tea which is made with ingredients like ginger, lemon, and honey 
  • Green tea 
  • Using essential oils in vaporizers such as peppermint and eucalyptus oil 

Other tips to help Upper respiratory infections 

  • Getting proper rest 
  • Drinking plenty of fluids 
  • Gargling with lukewarm salty water 
  • To ensure proper breathing while sleeping, keep your head at an angle while sleeping using pillows
  • Stay at home unless there is an emergency to avoid the risk of spreading infections

Risks associated with Upper respiratory infections?

Upper respiratory infections like the common cold are easy to catch. But considering these symptoms are common to other comparatively serious diseases, it is also important to be careful. Children and people of old age are more at risk of respiratory infections. It is also riskier for people with asthma or lung infections. Diseases resembling upper respiratory infections’ symptoms are Asthma, Pneumonia, swine flu, influenza, allergic reactions, and bronchitis. 

When to consult a doctor?

You must consult a doctor for serious symptoms like loss of consciousness, fever higher than 103 F, rapid breathing, and dizziness. 

FAQs  –

Can touching hands cause an upper respiratory infection?

Yes, if you touch hands with an affected individual, you are likely to get infected.

Does upper respiratory infection only spread through physical contact?

No, the upper respiratory infection can also be caused due to touching a dirty surface that might contain infected droplets.

What tips can be followed to contain the spread of upper respiratory infection?

The common tips you can follow are wearing a mask and covering your mouth when you sneeze if an upper respiratory infection infects you. Additionally, avoid crowded spaces and wear a mask when going out in cold or rainy weather, as the chances of getting infected are high.

Final takeaway –

Upper respiratory infections have symptoms common to several infections, such as sore throat, aching body, and runny or stuffy nose. These symptoms might exist in isolation or as a combination of many. Upper respiratory infections are highly contagious but usually are treatable with home remedies or easily available medication. You must consult a doctor if the symptoms last more than 2 weeks. 

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