General Illness Information
Upper Respiratory Infection, URI
Common name: Common Cold
Description: A contagious viral infection of the upper-respiratory passages
Any of at least 100 viruses. Virus particles spread through the air or from person-to-person contact, especially hand-shaking.
- Wash hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose or handling food;
- To prevent spreading a cold to others, avoid unnecessary contact during the contagious phase (first 2 to 4 days);
- Avoid crowded places when possible, especially during the winter;
- Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet that includes plenty of citrus fruits and other sources of vitamin C.
Some herbal supplements such as Echinacea, Goldenseal are popular as preventives.
Signs & Symptoms
- Aches and pains;
- Runny or stuffy nose. Nasal discharge is watery at first, then becomes thick and yellow;
- Sore throat;
- Cough that produces little or no sputum;
- Low fever or no fever;
- Watery eyes;
- Appetite loss.
- Exposure to infected individuals;
- Touching one’s nose or conjunctiva with contaminated fingers.
Diagnosis & Treatment
This is a clinical diagnosis. No specific tests are necessary.
- Use a cool-mist, ultrasonic humidifier to increase air moisture. Clean humidifier every day;
- For a baby too young to blow his nose, use an infant nasal aspirator. If mucus is thick and sticky, loosen it by putting 2 or 3 drops of salt solution into each nostril;
- Don’t insert cotton swabs into a child’s nostrils. Instead, catch the discharge outside the nostril on a tissue or swab, roll it around and pull the discharge out of the nose.
No medicine, including antibiotics, can cure the common cold. To relieve symptoms, you may use non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen, decongestants, nose drops or sprays, cough remedies and throat lozenges. Some herbal supplements such as Echinacea/Goldenseal may help in alleviating symptoms.
Bed rest is not necessary, but avoid vigorous activity. Rest often.
Regular diet. Drink extra fluids, including water, fruit juice, tea and carbonated drinks.
- Lower respiratory tract infection;
- Bronchial hyperreactivity;
- May lead to exacerbation in patients with asthma and chronic lung disease;
- Otitis media (2% of colds);
- Acute sinusitis (0.5% of colds);
- Rhinitis medicamentosa (from over use of nasal sprays).