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5 Signs of a Respiratory Infection

5 Signs of a Respiratory Infection

A respiratory infection typically starts out as an acute illness that, in most cases, eventually resolves itself. If you lay low for a few days and avoid visiting public areas where you can spread the infection, it should eventually subside. However, there are some cases in which respiratory infections persist or cause chronic medical issues. 

While the wide majority of upper respiratory infections go away with little to no intervention, the symptoms can be disruptive, uncomfortable, and highly contagious. Here at Washington Internal Medicine in Chantilly, California, our board-certified internist Sohan Varma, MD, evaluates your symptoms, can make a precise diagnosis, and offers remedies for respiratory infections of all kinds. 

Here are five common signs of a respiratory infection:

1. Nasal congestion

Nasal congestion and associated symptoms like a runny nose or lots of sneezing are telltale signs of a respiratory infection. When you have a respiratory infection, blood rushes into the vessels running along the inside of the nose and sinuses. This results in a feeling of fullness or congestion in both your nose and your face.

Experiencing congestion can cause severe headaches and can also lead to postnasal drip, which is what happens when the excess mucus drains down the back of your throat instead of your nostrils.

2. Cough

Coughing is a very common sign of a respiratory infection, arising with various infection types from the common cold to COVID-19. It’s your body’s way of reacting when something irritates your airways. The cough is an attempt to expel the irritating substance out and allow you to breathe clearly again. 

3. Fever

Many respiratory infections come with fevers, which can cause additional symptoms like body aches, headaches, chills, and a high temperature. A fever is a sign that your immune system is kicking into action to rid your body of the infectious virus or bacteria. 

You should monitor a fever if you get one and let Dr. Varma know right away if the fever persists or is higher than 103℉. 

4. Sore throat

A sore throat can arise from various throat infections or from acid reflux, but it can also be the result of a respiratory infection that has not yet been diagnosed. Colds, flus, and other common respiratory infections cause a sore or scratchy throat, which can affect the sound of your voice.

Those around you might remark that your voice sounds raspier or more muted than usual. Alongside other symptoms, this is a likely indication of an infection in your respiratory tract. 

5. Swollen lymph nodes

If you have a respiratory infection, your lymph nodes are working overtime to eradicate the infectious virus or bacteria from your system. This is why the lymph nodes in your neck become swollen and tender when you have a cold or any other respiratory infection. 

You can feel several of your lymph nodes for signs of swelling by running your fingers along your neck just under your jaw. You also have lymph nodes under your armpits and elsewhere that might swell up due to a respiratory infection. 

Find out if your symptoms come from a bacterial or viral respiratory infection by scheduling an appointment over the phone or online at Washington Internal Medicine today. 

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