There are a number of conditions that may present symptoms similar to an upper respiratory tract infection. Getting a correct diagnosis helps determine the best course of treatment. Dr. Patel, can you tell us about diagnosing upper respiratory infections?
Definitely, Dr. Flemings. The diagnosis of an upper respiratory infection typically involves a review of symptoms and physical examination. A provider may look for signs of inflammation inside the nasal cavity and pharynx, or throat, as well as redness of the eyes and tenderness around the sinuses.
Enlarged tonsils, white secretions on the tonsils called exudates, and enlarged lymph nodes around the head and neck are signs that the body is fighting an infection.
In most cases, laboratory testing is not necessary to diagnose an upper respiratory infection. A majority of upper respiratory infections are caused by viruses, which don't require a specific diagnosis in order to be treated.
If a bacterial infection is suspected, however, testing may be done to determine the best course of antibiotic treatment. A rapid strep test or bacterial cultures using a nasal swab, throat swab, or sputum may be used to confirm or rule out specific types of infection.