The National Institutes of Health reports that there are over one BILLION colds in the United States each year. And last week, a lot of those were in Central Florida. Coughing, sneezing, a sore throat, runny nose…these are all classic symptoms of an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI); often referred to as the common cold.
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.
◦ Scratchy or sore throat
◦ Watery eyes
◦ Ear congestion
◦ Sneezing, runny nose, & nasal congestion
◦ Slight fever (99º to 100ºF)
◦ Loss of appetite
Unfortunately there is no cure for a cold, and because it is a viral infection, antibiotics are not effective. Generally this type of illness 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), and use a humidifier at night so you’re breathing in moist air.
Here are some things you can do at home 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.