Symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections


Coughing is your body's way of clearing your airways from mucus, irritants, or foreign particles. You may experience:
  • Dry, hacking cough or a wet cough that produces phlegm
  • Feeling of irritation in your throat or chest

Sometimes, coughing can make breathing difficult or cause shortness of breath. If your symptoms are severe, please see a qualified healthcare professional.


Caused by inflammation in the pharynx or larynx, a sore throat can feel like a scratchy, dry, or raw sensation in the throat. If you have an infection you may experience:
  • Pain or a scratchy sensation in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen tonsils or lymph nodes
  • Hoarseness or a raspy voice
  • Dryness or irritation in the throat


Nasal congestion is the feeling of a blocked or stuffy nose that may be accompanied by difficulty breathing or a reduced sense of smell. If you have an infection you may experience:
  • Feeling of stuffiness, pressure, or blockage in the nose or sinuses
  • Excessive production of mucus or nasal discharge (a runny nose)
  • Sneezing or coughing to clear the mucus
  • Fatigue or difficulty sleeping due to discomfort

Not every cough or URTI needs a visit to the doctor. To help you decide what you should do next or visit NHS Direct’s page on respiratory tract infections for more information.

Please keep in mind that this information is intended for guidance only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you are experiencing severe, worsening, or persistent symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention from your doctor, pharmacist, or other qualified healthcare professional. Call NHS 111 or visit NHS Direct for further information.

Cough? Sneeze?

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