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Upper Respiratory Infection In Adults

What is it? The common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory tract that includes the nose, throat, ears, and sinuses. It is also called an upper respiratory infection (URI). For healthy people, the common cold is usually not serious and does not need special treatment. Cold symptoms should go away within 7 to 10 days.

Causes: The common cold is caused by a germ called a virus. There are hundreds of different viruses. Viruses are contagious (kun-ta-jus) which means they can be easily spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or touching hands. You are more likely to get a cold in the winter and if you are feeling stressed or tired. It may be easier for you to get a cold if you smoke cigarettes or have allergies, such as hay fever.

Signs and Symptoms: You may have one or more of the following symptoms.

  • Belly ache.
  • Body aches and sore muscles.
  • Chills.
  • Coughing.
  • Fever (102F or lower).
  • Headache.
  • Nasal congestion (kun-jes-chun) which is a stuffed up nose.
  • No hunger or thirst.
  • Red, watery, and sore eyes.
  • Runny nose and sneezing.
  • Sore throat.
  • Tiredness.

Care: There is no cure for viral illnesses such as the common cold. You should rest and drink liquids. Antibiotic (an-ti-bi-ah-tik) medicine does not work to treat illnesses caused by a virus. Take acetaminophen (uh-c-tuh-min-o-fin) for fever, sore throat and body aches. You may need medicine for your cough or nasal congestion.

  • Keep warm and get lots of sleep. Use a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer to ease your breathing and unplug your nose. Drink 6 to 8 glasses (soda pop can size) of hot or cold liquids a day. Or, follow your care givers advice if you are on a fluid restriction.
  • Wash your hands after blowing your nose. This prevents spreading the cold to other people. Cover your mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing. Do not share food or drinks with anyone. Try to stay away from other people during the first 2 to 3 days of his illness. To help keep from getting colds, stay away from crowded places, especially in the winter. Eat healthy, nutritious foods.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about the common cold and how it can be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care will be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.