Health News

Upper Respiratory Infections

Coughing, sneezing, sore throat, runny nose, these are all classic symptoms of an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI); often referred to as the common cold. So common, in fact, that according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are over one billion colds in the United States each year. Area Centra Care locations saw hundreds of cold sufferers this past week, with the biggest statistical increases showing in pediatric URI cases:

  • Sand Lake — up 1000% (kids)
  • Lee Road — up 300% (kids)
  • Winter Park — up 267% (kids)

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URI is any type of infection of the head and chest that is caused by a virus. It can affect people in the nose, throat, sinuses and ears. There are over 200 viruses that cause URIs. The infection is spread when viruses are passed to others by sneezing, coughing, or by touching something that has been infected by another person.
Symptoms of URI include:

  • Scratchy or sore throat
  • Cough
  • Watery eyes
  • Ear congestion
  • Sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion
  • Slight fever (99º to 100º F)
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite

Unfortunately there is no cure for a cold, and because it is a viral infection, antibiotics are not effective. Generally, a cold lasts about a week. To recover from symptoms as quickly as possible, get plenty of rest, drink lots of clear fluids to prevent dehydration (i.e. water, sport drinks, caffeine-free soft drinks (flattened), and broth)

There are things you can do at home, however, to relieve specific symptoms:

  • Slight fever, headache or muscle/joint aches: take Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen.
  • Sore throat: lozenges (adults), gargling salt water, or a popsicle might help with the pain.
  • Stuffy nose: a decongestant or saline nose drops can ease the suffering.
  • Runny nose: use a mild antihistamine.
  • Cough: adults can use a cough medication or cough drops. Suppressants are no longer recommended for children under the age of 6 years. The best way to care for your child’s cough is to keep them well hydrated by encouraging them to drink plenty of fluids and use a cool mist humidifier in their room at night.