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LEARNING OBJECTIVES

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  1. Accurately identify the most likely etiology when patients present with a runny nose, sore throat, or earache, through history, diagnostic tests, and patient findings on examination, to enable the pharmacist to recommend effective treatment or refer the patient to an appropriate provider.

  2. Use the knowledge of the pathophysiology, etiology, and common presentation of upper respiratory tract diseases to review prescription orders for appropriateness and to accurately educate patients about their disease and its treatment.

  3. Use the knowledge of the pathophysiology, etiology, and common presentation of upper respiratory diseases to accurately interpret the diagnostic process to enable the pharmacist to advise providers regarding the most appropriate prescription therapy.

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Common disorders of the upper respiratory tract are among the most frequent disorders dealt with by all health professionals. The runny or stuffy noses, earaches, and sore throats are universal afflictions dealt with by everyone. They may also be associated with a cough that is not the predominant symptom. Differential diagnosis of cough as the most significant symptom will be covered in more detail in the chapter 8. These symptoms can occur alone or in combination, and carefully identifying the cause can allow prompt and effective treatment or referral to definitive care.

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RUNNY/STUFFY NOSE

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Two common viral infections, allergic rhinitis, vasomotor rhinitis, and bacterial sinusitis make up the most common among the vast number of diseases that present with the chief complaint of a runny or stuffy nose. Table 7.1 provides the diagnostic schemata and comparative presentations.

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TABLE 7.1

Stuffy/Runny Nose

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