This is the time of year when respiratory tract infections act up, so we've created a brief guided tour to the common cold and four of its fellow misery makers. Please refer to the illustration as you read along. Flu is not included because the focus is on anatomical locations in the respiratory tract, and flu's effects are widespread. A couple of themes emerged as we put this article together. First, it's true: washing your hands may be your best defense against respiratory infection. Second, antibiotics are important arrows in the treatment quiver, but they've been overused, especially for sinusitis and bronchitis.
1. Common cold
What is it? Inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the nose.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.