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URTI - Causes

Weak immune system: a weak immune system causes URTIs, as it makes one more susceptible to catching infections.

Physical contact: Hand-to-hand contact or sharing objects with a person suffering from cold can give one an attack of URTI.

Viruses: There are at least 200 different variants of cold viruses, out of which three to four are particularly harmful. A child gets all these infections upon being exposed to new viruses. The child's body will build up defences (immunity) against these viruses upon exposure. However, this takes many years to build immunity towards cold viruses.

Risk factors and triggers

  • A child is more likely to be exposed to URTIs if they attend a day care, play group, play outside or are left under the care of a babysitter.
  • Older brothers and sisters may bring home infections from school. Colds are more common in large families.
  • The rate of colds triple when people spend more time crowded together indoors, breathing recirculated air.
  • Smoking at home increases a child's susceptibility to colds.
  • Inadequate sleep or lack of quality sleep can make the immune system weak, making one prone to frequent colds.
  • Environmental pollutants are toxic to the airway passage, causing it to get inflamed and easily infected.
  • Infants are highly vulnerable to URTIs, owing to an immature or underdeveloped immune system and narrow airway passages.
  • Elders with illnesses such as diabetes, blood pressure or any other illness that can make the immune system weak are susceptible to respiratory infections.
  • Deviated nasal septum leads to the narrowing of the nose passage, making one vulnerable to URTIs.

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