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Learn about coughing and congestion associated with URI's (Upper Respiratory Infections).

URI is a general term used to describe infection of the upper respiratory tract from bacterial, fungal or viral agents. The upper part of the respiratory system includes the ears, nose, sinuses, mouth, and throat. It also includes the main bronchi or windpipes, which are the air-carrying tubes in the chest. The upper respiratory system is the most commonly infected area in the body. Many of the signs and symptoms depend on the type of upper respiratory infection.

Common symptoms of URIs include runny stuffy nose, throat infection, fever, headache, cough, malaise or vague feeling of illness, muscle aches, loss of appetite, ear pain. There are many different types of upper respiratory infections, such as:

  • the common cold, usually due to a virus
  • influenza virus infection ("the flu")
  • acute or chronic sinusitis, which involve the nasal sinuses
  • otitis externa, or infection of the outer ear
  • acute otitis media, or infection of the middle ear
  • pharyngitis, or throat infection
  • acute bronchitis, an infection in the lower windpipes
  • croup, which is a viral infection of the main windpipe that is usually only seen in children
  • epiglottitis, a bacterial infection of the main windpipe

Almost all URIs are contagious, so avoiding sick people can help prevent some cases. Frequent hand washing can also help reduce the spread of many URIs. Vaccines are used to help prevent some cases. Most URIs are mild; however, some can be serious and may have long-term effects. For example, untreated strep throat can lead to kidney damage or rheumatic fever. Acute otitis media can result in hearing loss. Severe croup and epiglottitis may be life-threatening. URIs can also put people at risk of getting pneumonia.

How Does the Immune System fight Upper Respiratory Infections?

The immune system is a body wide network of cells and organs that has evolved to defend the body against attacks by foreign entities such as bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. The immune system identifies foreign entities and creates antibodies to destroy them.

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Results / Testimonials

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My husband, who is 66 years old, has had asthma since he was two. His condition has gotten progressively worse over the years. About six years ago he got bronchitis that seemed to settle in and was very hard to get rid of. It would just keep coming back. We've had him on three different antibiotics, all to no avail. The doctor even put him on Diflucan (anti-fungal) and that didn't even help.

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San Leandro, CA