Here are some fast facts on upper respiratory infections that we will cover in this article:
- The most prevalent upper respiratory infections are the common head cold, influenza (flu), bronchitis, and pneumonia.
- A myriad of bacteria and viruses can cause upper respiratory infections, making them exceedingly tough to avoid when immune function isn’t up to speed.
- Upper respiratory infections are most common in the fall and winter but they can occur at any time of the year.
- Symptoms of upper respiratory infections often include coughing, fever, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, nasal congestion, runny nose, and trouble breathing.
- Conventional treatment of upper respiratory tract infections usually includes antibiotic therapy and drugs that alleviate acute symptoms.
- Natural treatment options for upper respiratory infections may include ozone therapy, homeopathy, immune-boosting IV therapy, and nutritional supplements that promote immune function and help realign the gut.
Read on as this article gets you up to speed on upper respiratory infections, what causes them, their symptoms, how they are treated conventionally, and how our alternative therapies can provide natural long-term relief of these common illnesses.
What are Upper Respiratory Infections?
Upper respiratory infections are illnesses that affect the upper respiratory tract (i.e. the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs). The most common upper respiratory illnesses are the common cold, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
Upper respiratory infections comprise the most frequently encountered group of viral and bacterial infections across the globe, affecting adults upwards of 5 times per year or more.1
But why do upper respiratory illnesses happen so frequently? In short: Compromised immune function.
When the immune system is lacking integrity and not functioning properly, the body loses its innate and adaptive capacity to defend against invasive microbes, leading to a greater risk of upper respiratory tract infections like the common cold, flu, pneumonia, and bronchitis.
In most cases, these infections are not life-threatening, but over time they can become more dangerous if left untreated and the immune system isn’t able to effectively ward off the offending pathogens.
Pneumonia and bronchitis are especially concerning illnesses in older adults as they can invade deep into the lungs and produce significant inflammation.
Nevertheless, upper respiratory infections can be quite annoying and debilitating, especially in the fall and winter months when they are most likely to occur. The symptoms may last for 2-3 weeks, resulting in lengthy downtime and absence from work/school.
What Causes Upper Respiratory Infections?
Upper respiratory infections are caused by hundreds of different germs/microbes that enter the body, commonly through the mouth, nose, and eyes. As such, contact with someone who has an upper respiratory infection is a major risk factor for contracting these illnesses.
The common cold, which is the most prevalent upper respiratory infection, is largely caused by the rhinovirus, but it’s suspected that over 200 different viruses can cause a cold.2 The flu is named after the viruses that cause it - influenza viruses.
Pneumonia and bronchitis are caused by a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, many of which are able to be transmitted through the air we breathe. Both pneumonia and bronchitis are more likely to occur if you contract a cold or the flu, and their irritating symptoms may persist for weeks after the infection passes.
Signs and Symptoms of Upper Respiratory Infections
Upper respiratory infections tend to aggravate immune cells throughout the sinus, nasal, and throat regions, as well as the lungs. Thus, the symptoms of upper respiratory infections are somewhat similar to those of seasonal allergies and asthma.
Symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections include:
- Red, watery eyes that itch
- Runny nose and nasal congestion
- Coughing and sneezing
- Sore throat
- Coughing up phlegm/mucus
- Trouble breathing
- Inability to smell/taste
- Loss of appetite
These symptoms can significantly reduce the quality of life of someone when they persist, and be life-threatening in the case of viral pneumonia. It’s imperative to seek a long-term resolution if you suffer from chronic upper respiratory infections.
Risk Factors for Upper Respiratory Infection
Major risk factors of upper respiratory tract infections include:
- Skin-to-skin contact and/or exchanging saliva with an infected individual (e.g. kissing)
- Exposure to airborne respiratory droplets (e.g. sneezes and coughs)
- Touching objects or surfaces that are contaminated with germs
- Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
- Chronic asthma and diabetes
- Gut dysbiosis
Conventional Treatment for Upper Respiratory Infection
Conventional treatment for upper respiratory infections often includes antibiotic therapy and drugs that help treat immediate symptoms, such as pseudoephedrine, diphenhydramine, benzocaine, and acetaminophen.
The problem with this approach is that these medications often produce side effects just as debilitating as the illness symptoms themselves, and antibiotics further exacerbate the issue of compromised immune function by depleting the gut microbiome of vital bacteria.
The gut and immune system work in tandem to protect the body against pathogens and toxins.
This is why LifeWorks often treats gut dysbiosis in conjunction with alternative immune therapies to help realign and restore the body’s natural defense mechanisms.
The Importance of Gut Health
Furthermore, vaccines are often given for influenza but the safety and efficacy of these shots aren’t definitive. It’s also important to note that flu vaccination isn’t a guarantee that you won’t contract the flu, and no vaccines exist for pneumonia, bronchitis, and the common cold
DIY Treatment of the Common Cold and Other Upper Respiratory Infections
The majority of adults who contract an upper respiratory tract infection never actually seek diagnosis and treatment through a qualified physician since they assume these illnesses are fleeting. However, that’s not always the case. If you suffer from the common cold, flu, bronchitis, and/or pneumonia frequently, it could be a sign of underlying immune issues that need to be addressed. In fact, pneumonia can be lethal when left untreated.
Self-medicating with over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal decongestants, fever reducers, and cough suppressants are merely treating the symptoms and not the root cause of upper respiratory infections. While these medications may help in the short-term, they are not a long-term solution for defending against upper respiratory tract illness.
Alternative Treatment for Upper Respiratory Infections
Since there is no outright cure to upper respiratory infections, the most effective way to treat them is to prevent them. Naturally, many people are seeking alternatives to vaccines since they are only partly effective and possibly unsafe.
At LifeWorks, we take a more pragmatic, holistic approach to treating upper respiratory infections by offering immune-boosting IV therapy with the Myers’ Cocktail - a natural mixture of micronutrients (B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium) that bolster the immune system and increase antioxidant status throughout the body.
We also offer adjunctive homeopathics along with the Myers’ Cocktail to ease viral infection symptoms, stimulate the body’s intrinsic defense mechanisms, and support lymphatic flow.
This powerful immune-boosting cocktail with added homeopathics is an efficacious, natural, and safe way to prepare for upper respiratory infections.
To help alleviate short-term symptoms, we may also use a nebulizer with hydrogen peroxide, which naturally scavenges free radicals and attenuates inflammation caused by the infection.
In addition, LifeWorks offers major autohemotherapy (MAH) ozone treatment to help eliminate pathogens that may be causing upper respiratory infections. MAH ozone treatment is an innovative form of ozone therapy that takes a small amount of the patient’s blood and mixes it with ozone (O3) and re-administers the ozonated blood back into the body through an IV drip for a short time period. The ozonated blood then travels throughout the circulation and helps kill invasive microbial species.
MAH Success Story:
“Recently, Sue recommended for me a round of ozone therapy. I came back to LifeWorks after being sick for over a year with extreme digestive difficulties, exhaustion and lowered immunity. After just 4 rounds of “MAH”, I feel alive, regaining energy more and more each week! And my digestive tract has begun to function again!” - Jaqueline
Contact us today to learn more about our natural treatments for upper respiratory infection!
Give us a call at 727-466-6789 or submit a confidential online inquiry to learn more about how LifeWorks can help you prepare for flu season and defend against upper respiratory infections without the need for vaccines or antibiotics!
- Eccles, R. (2005). Understanding the symptoms of the common cold and influenza. The Lancet infectious diseases, 5(11), 718-725.
- Heikkinen, T., & Järvinen, A. (2003). The common cold. The Lancet, 361(9351), 51-59.
*Disclaimer: Individual patient results may vary based on a patient's medical history and other factors.