Upper respiratory infection, or URI, is an acute illness also known as the common cold. It is most often due to a bacterial or viral invasion of the body, that enters through the respiratory system.
URIs characteristically attack the mucosal lining the upper respiratory airway. It is spread by coming into contact with secretions from an infected person, or by the water droplet nuclei produced when a person coughs or sneezes into the environment. This is why covering your mouth when coughing, and covering the face when sneezing is important to prevent the spread of upper respiratory infections to others.
Once a pathogen enters the body, it must overcome particular barriers before causing disease. These barriers include:
– Nose hair
– Cells with cilia located in the lower part of the respiratory tract
– Stomach acids
The purpose of these barriers is to trap the foreign invaders to reduce your chances of getting a cold or the flu. The cells in the lower respiratory tract have cilia that capture and bring pathogens to the pharynx, where they can be swallowed and taken to the stomach where they can be destroyed by digestive juices in the stomach.
Your adenoids and tonsils:
The adenoids and tonsils help to defend against disease causing pathogens due to their immune cells that respond to foreign invaders. These cells include: Macrophages, Monocytes, Neutrophils and Eosinophils.
The general scope of nasopharyngeal passage that comprises of staph and strept even defend from pathogens. People with defective immunity, like AIDS, are in grave danger of contagion factor as their immunity is found grossly deficient.
In return, pathogens are equipped to struggle. Through genesis of toxins and proteases, and by creating capsules, they manage to keep choking of phagocytic cells at bay.
Incubation periods vary among the types of pathogens. Rhinoviruses and flu can take up to 5 days to incubate. Others, such as pertussis and take up to 10 days or as long as three weeks before symptoms present themselves. Epstein-Barr incubation period can be up to 6 weeks.
What kinds of symptoms are witnessed during upper respiratory infection?
People who have never suffered from URIor upper respiratory infection are affected by following manifestations:
– Runny nose
– Head congestion – Feels like there is a hug cork jammed into the middle of your face
– Nasal congestion – Caused by swollen nasal passages that have slammed completely shut
– Chest congestion – Bronchial airways clogged with mucus
– Sore, scratchy throat
Treatment for URI is to reduce symptoms. Most colds and flu are caused by viruses, against which antibiotics have no power. Antibiotics work against bacterial infections only. If you have a URI, there are over-the-counter medications for cough, runny nose, congestion, and fever to help minimize symptoms and help you to feel better.