Respiratory tract infection - GPDQ
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Respiratory tract infection

Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) can affect the sinuses, throat, airways or lungs. Most RTIs get better without treatment in 1-2 weeks but sometimes you may need to see a GP. Lower RTI’s tend to last longer and be more serious.


Common Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Breathlessness, tight chest or wheezing
  • High temperature (fever)
  • Feeling generally unwell


Upper respiratory tract infections include:

  • Common cold
  • Sinusitis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Laryngitis


Lower respiratory tract infections include:

  • Bronchitis
  • Bronchiolitis
  • Chest infection
  • Pneumonia


Flu can be an upper or lower respiratory tract infection

Treatment at home

  • Rest
  • Drink water to loosen mucus and make it easier to cough up
  • Drink hot lemon & honey to soothe a cough (not suitable for under 1 year of age)
  • Gargle with warm salty water (children should not try this)
  • Raise your head whilst sleeping to make breathing easier and clear your chest of mucus
  • Over the counter remedies to ease symptoms such as sore throat, headaches and muscle pain (ask your pharmacist)

When should I book a GP?

  • you feel very unwell or your symptoms get worse
  • you cough up blood or bloodstained mucus
  • you’ve had a cough for longer than 3 weeks
  • you’re pregnant
  • you’re over 65
  • you have a weakened immune system – e.g. you’re having chemotherapy
  • you have a long-term health condition, such as a heart, lung or kidney condition
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