Did you know that upper respiratory tract infections (URT, URTI) are the most common human diseases? They are one of the most common reasons for doctor visits, missed work and school, spoiled vacations and general malaise.
Upper respiratory infections are illnesses caused by an acute infection, which involves the upper respiratory tract including the nose, sinuses, pharynx or larynx. This generally includes among others, the common cold and flu.
While you might be feeling lousy, the good news is antibiotics are not required. Although, there are remedies to speed the relief and healing. The bad news is a cold or flu can last a week or two, and some people suffer even longer. If that doesn’t sound bad enough, all adults get at least one cold a year, and many endure 2-3 colds annually.
How can you tell if it’s a cold or flu?
As frustrating as it may sound, sometimes at the beginning you can’t tell the difference. Some cold viruses can cause “flu-like” symptoms. In general however:
Colds tend to be localized to the nose and throat
– Symptom onset can be as fast as 10-12 hours after exposure
– Symptom severity increases rapidly peaking at day 2 or 3
– Early symptoms are usually sneezing, chilliness, sore throat, and sometimes a dry unproductive cough
– Later symptoms of runny nose, nasal congestion, malaise (a general feeling of discomfort)
– Symptoms usually last 7 to 10 days.
The flu tends to involve more of the whole body
– Incubation period ranges from 1-7 days after exposure
– Characterized by sudden onset of significant sever symptoms
– Common symptoms include: a feeling of exhaustion, fever above 100°F/37.8°C, headache, productive cough, muscle pain, weakness, loss of appetite, (sometimes accompanied by nasal congestion and/or sore throat)
– Symptoms can last 2-3 weeks
Still not sure? You may want to call the doctor if:
– you have a fever lasting more than three days.
– it’s painful to swallow.
– you have persistent congestion and headache.
Wishing you good health and if you’re feeling sick, a speedy recovery!