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Cold / Upper Respiratory Infections

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 infectionsThe 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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  • cough
  • 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.