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. Click here for information specific to COVID-19.
If you experience symptoms (see below) of an upper respiratory infection:
- Stay home or wear a high-quality mask if you need to go in public.
- Take an at-home COVID-19 antigen test to determine whether you’re infected with COVID-19. If your test result is positive, see guidance below.
- 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.
- Take pain or fever medications.
- Take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough.
- Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated.
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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 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.