An upper respiratory infection (URI), also known as the common cold, is one of the most common illnesses, leading to more doctor visits and absences from school and work than any other illness every year. It is estimated that during a one-year period, people in the U.S. will suffer one billion colds. Caused by a virus that inflames the membranes in the lining of the nose and throat, colds can be the result of more than 200 different viruses. An upper respiratory infection (URI) results from a viral infection that causes inflammation of the nose and throat. URIs usually last 10 to 14 days but can last considerably longer.
There are over 200 known viruses that can cause URIs. These viruses can cause one or more of the following symptoms:
- runny nose
- stuffy nose
- mucus in the throat
- scratchy or sore throat
- fatigue and weakness
- cough, with or without mucus
- fever below 101°F
- muscle and body aches
- mild headache
Because URIs are viral and antibiotics don’t work against viruses, treatment focuses on feeling better until the body eliminates the virus. General treatment measures or nonprescription medications may help relieve URI symptoms. Prescription medications are rarely necessary.
General treatment measures
- Drink at least eight ounces of noncaffeinated, nonalcoholic fluids every two hours to help soothe the throat and relieve nasal congestion. Drink more if a fever is present.
- Eat a well-balanced diet, including fruits, vegetables, and grains.
- Take it easy. Modify exercise routines, if necessary, to avoid excessive weakness and fatigue.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking is drying and irritates the nose and throat.
- Don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol makes it harder for the body to fight off disease and interacts with many medications.
|Ibuprofen 200mg (Advil, Motrin) 1-2 tabs every 6-8 hours OR Aleve 1 tab every 12 hours||For pain relief, fever, and anti-inflammatory agent. Take with food.|
|Acetaminophen (Tylenol) 325 mg,
1-2 tabs every 6 hours.
No more than 8 tabs per day.
|Pain relief, fever control. Avoid alcohol.|
|Aspirin is not recommended while ill.|
|Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed 12 hour) Available through pharmacies only; take a.m. and p.m. while congested||Decongestant: used to
treat congestion of the sinuses ears and chest.
|Diphenhydramine 25mg (Benadryl)
1-2 tabs every 6 hours Loratadine (Claritin) 1 tab daily Cetirizine (Zyrtec)1 tab daily
|Antihistamines: for allergy symptoms, and to assist with congestion. Benadryl may cause drowsiness.|
Guaifenesin/Pseudoephedrine (Mucinex D)
1 tab every 12 Hours
|Guaifenesin: mucus thinner D= a decongestant (i.e. pseudoephedrine) DM= a cough suppressant (i.e. dextromethorphan)|
|Dextromethorphan (Delsym 12h)
|Nasal saline washes/sprays||Cleans/moistens nasal passages|
|Avoid alcohol, smoke, dust, and other irritants as these can worsen mucus production.|
|Read all labels carefully to ensure that you are not taking a double dose of any one medication.|
|If pregnant, consult your provider prior to taking any medicine.|