Respiratory tract infections (RTIs)

Respiratory tract infections (RTIs)

Infections such as ear infections, sore throat, sinusitis, cough and the common cold are widespread. Doctors often use the term respiratory tract infection (RTI) to include any – or all – of these infections.

Most RTIs are caused by a virus and clear up on their own. Viruses cannot be killed by antibiotics – only bacterial infections can be effectively treated with antibiotics.

Each viral infection you get is caused by a slightly different virus, and once you've fought it off, you are immune (resistant) to that particular virus.

Typical total duration of an RTI

  • Ear infection: 4 days

  • Sore throat: 1 week

  • Common cold: 1½ weeks

  • Sinusitis: 2½ weeks

  • Cough: 3 weeks