The following principles of appropriate antibiotic use for adults with nonspecific upper respiratory tract infections apply to immunocompetent adults without complicating comorbid conditions, such as chronic lung or heart disease.
1. The diagnosis of nonspecific upper respiratory tract infection or acute rhinopharyngitis should be used to denote an acute infection that is typically viral in origin and in which sinus, pharyngeal, and lower airway symptoms, although frequently present, are not prominent.
2. Antibiotic treatment of adults with nonspecific upper respiratory tract infection does not enhance illness resolution and is not recommended. Studies specifically testing the impact of antibiotic treatment on complications of nonspecific upper respiratory tract infections have not been performed in adults. Life-threatening complications of upper respiratory tract infection are rare.
3. Purulent secretions from the nares or throat (commonly observed in patients with uncomplicated upper respiratory tract infection) predict neither bacterial infection nor benefit from antibiotic treatment.