The common cold is the most frequent acute illness in the United States. Most URIs are viral infections of the air passages leading to the lungs. Viral URIs usually run their course and go away on their own between 7-10 days. Most viral URIs do not require antibiotics or medical attention.
Symptoms include: runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite and muscle aches.
Viral illness cannot be cured with medicines, but medicines may be prescribed or recommended to relieve symptoms. Medicines will help symptoms associated with fever, aches, cough or congestion.
The most important prevention is washing hands with soap and water. Alcohol wipes can be used. The germs that cause the common cold can live on surfaces for at least 2 hours. It is important to wash your hands often.
If you get the common cold/ viral URI: Rest and drink lots of fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow. If caught early you can use oral zinc to help boost your immune system and lessen the severity and duration of symptoms.
For nasal symptoms in adults: combinations of decongestants and antihistamine or intranasal ipratropium bromide.
For nasal symptoms in children: nasal saline and suction with humidifiers may be helpful. Decongestants are not recommended in children < 6 years old.
Please call the doctor when:
- If you have a fever and also have a history of lung disease
- A cough lasting more than 10 days
- Chest pain when you cough, trouble breathing, or coughing up blood
- A fever > 100.4F that comes with chills, loss of appetite or trouble breathing
For Children: Please take them to the ER if they become confused, stop responding or have trouble breathing.
Call your child’s doctor:
- If they refuse to drink anything for a long time
- younger than 4 months
- Fever and not acting like themselves
- cough that last more than 2 weeks and is not getting better
- has a stuffy or runny nose for more than 10 days
- has red eyes or yellow goop from eyes
- has ear pain, pulls on ears or signs of ear infection
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