Upper respiratory infections—such as the common cold or flu—are caused by many different viruses. Most colds last about 10 days and do not require a doctor’s care.
There are no specific treatments for mild upper respiratory infections. The majority of people will recover on their own. Antibiotics will not treat a cold, cough, or the flu. This is because antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, while common colds and the flu are caused by viruses. Antibiotics will not help you when you have a viral infection. In most cases, the best only thing you can do for a bad cold is rest and soothe your symptoms.
You can relieve symptoms by:
- Taking pain or fever medications
- Taking a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough
- Drinking plenty of liquids to stay hydrated
- Staying home from class and work and resting
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- stuffy nose
- yellow-green nasal discharge
- runny nose
- mucus in the throat
- scratchy or sore throat
- fatigue and weakness
- cough, with or without mucus
- fever above 101°F
- muscle and body aches
- mild headache
When to contact a health care provider
- Rapidly worsening symptoms
- Symptoms that last more than 10 to 14 days after trying self-care measures
- Ear pain
- A fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for more than two days (be sure to check with a thermometer)
- Wheezing or shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Persistent and severe sore throat, particularly if unable to swallow or open the mouth
- A stiff neck or sensitivity to bright lights
Make an appointment
Call 608-265-5600 or schedule a phone appointment in MyUHS.