Colds or upper respiratory infections are a common reason for doctor visits.  Most upper respiratory infections are caused by viruses.  Antibiotics are ineffective against viral infections.

For a sore throat, try gargling with warm salt water, sucking on cough drops/hard candy, and using over the counter throat sprays or lozenges.  Acetaminophen can also help decrease the pain.

For nasal congestion, using a humidifier, guaifenesin (found in most cough syrups), and decongestants can help.  Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine, can also cause elevations in blood pressure.

Coughing is a normal response to irritation of the airways.  If a cough is productive of phlegm, it is best not to suppress the cough.  If the cough is nonproductive, cough syrups with dextromethorphan can help decrease the cough.


If the symptoms of the cold last for more than 7 to 10 days, or are associated with shortness of breath, chest pains, or high fevers, contact your physician.