Upper respiratory tract infections

Indian J Pediatr. 2001 Dec;68(12):1135-8. doi: 10.1007/BF02722930.


Acute respiratory infections accounts for 20-40% of outpatient and 12-35% of inpatient attendance in a general hospital. Upper respiratory tract infections including nasopharyngitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis and otitis media constitute 87.5% of the total episodes of respiratory infections. The vast majority of acute upper respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses. Common cold is caused by viruses in most circumstances and does not require antimicrobial agent unless it is complicated by acute otitis media with effusion, tonsillitis, sinusitis, and lower respiratory tract infection. Sinusitis is commonly associated with common cold. Most instances of rhinosinusitis are viral and therefore, resolve spontaneously without antimicrobial therapy. The most common bacterial agents causing sinusitis are S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae, M. catarrhalis, S. aureus and S. pyogenes. Amoxycillin is antibacterial of choice. The alternative drugs are cefaclor or cephalexin. The latter becomes first line if sinusitis is recurrent or chronic. Acute pharyngitis is commonly caused by viruses and does not need antibiotics. About 15% of the episodes may be due to Group A beta hemolytic streptococcus (GABS). Early initiation of antibiotics in pharyngitis due to GABS can prevent complications such as acute rheumatic fever. The drug of choice is penicillin for 10-14 days. The alternative medications include oral cephalosporins (cefaclor, cephalexin), amoxicillin or macrolides.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Common Cold / diagnosis
  • Common Cold / drug therapy
  • Common Cold / virology
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Pharyngitis / diagnosis
  • Pharyngitis / drug therapy
  • Pharyngitis / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Sinusitis / diagnosis
  • Sinusitis / drug therapy
  • Sinusitis / etiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents