Health Library

Upper respiratory infection (URI)

An upper respiratory infection (URI) is an infection of the nose, sinuses, or throat. Examples of URIs include colds, influenza (flu), and sinusitis. Common symptoms are a runny or stuffy nose and a cough.

Most URIs can be treated with home care. This may include drinking lots of fluids and taking over-the-counter pain medicine. Most people feel better in 4 to 10 days.

If a doctor suspects that a URI is caused by bacteria, antibiotics are prescribed. But almost all URIs are caused by viruses. Antibiotics don't kill viruses, so they won't help cure a viral infection.