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Upper respiratory tract infections in adolescents.

While upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) cause much infectious morbidity in infants and young children, adolescents are not immune to infections. Adolescents experience two to four episodes of viral nasopharyngitis annually. In addition to group A streptococcus (GAS), pharyngitis may occur with other streptococci, Arcanobacterium haemolyticum, Epstein-Barr virus, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and other pathogens. Uvulits, typically in association with GAS, occurs occasionally. Peritonsillar abscess is the most common deep neck space infection seen in adolescents, but retropharyngeal and parapharyngeal abscesses also occur, causing major morbidity. Adolescents experience fewer cases of otitis media than younger children. Rhinosinusitis occurs commonly in adolescents, occasionally leading to chronic sinusitis and serious sequelae such as osteomyelitis. This article reviews the major URTIs likely to be encountered by physicians caring for adolescents. For each entity there is a brief description of the epidemiology, morbidity, microbiology, clinical and laboratory features, treatment, and prevention.

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