Upper respiratory infections include the common cold, tonsillitis and sore throats. These are infections of the nose and throat. In children a particular infection (epiglottitis), just above the windpipe can obstruct breathing and be fatal if a tube is not inserted down into the windpipe (trachea). Otherwise these very common illnesses are rarely serious unless the infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract.
Upper respiratory infections caused 0.13% of all deaths worldwide in 2002, an average of 12 deaths per million people per year.