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What is it?

An upper respiratory infection (URI) is a cold caused by a viral inflammation of the mucous lining of the upper respiratory tract, particularly the nose, throat and sinuses. Symptoms can last between 4-14 days.

Antibiotics DO NOT help a cold.  


  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Chest congestion
  • Nasal congestion
  • Body aches


  • Get plenty of rest (8-9 hours/night)
  • Drink at least 8 large glasses of water a day and/or fruit juices high in Vitamin C, jello, tea with honey or broth/soups (these help thin your mucus and can decrease congestion)
  • Take over-the-counter (OTC) medication to treat your specific symptoms:
    1. Sore throat
      • Salt water gargles, with ½ teaspoon salt in a glass of hot water several times per day
      • Honey and water gargles, with equal parts several times per day
      • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen (follow label instructions)
      • Hard candy or throat lozenges (helps soothe and moisten throat)
    2. Cough
      • Robitussin or Delsym (follow label instructions)
      • Vicks Vaporub (apply to chest and under nostrils)
    3. Runny nose and congestion
      • Sudafed (follow label instructions)
      • Flonase/Fluticasone nasal spray (follow label instructions)
      • Sinus rinses with distilled water, or use a neti pot
      • Cool-mist humidifier or warm-steam showers
    4. Fever and body aches
      • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen (follow label instructions)
    5. For multi-symptom relief take Dayquil and Nyquil (follow label instructions)
  • Refrain from smoking as it will make your symptoms worse
  • Do not drink alcohol because it is dehydrating, can worsen symptoms and interact with the OTC medications
  • Use Vaseline, Aquaphor or a lip moisturizer to prevent chapped lips
  • Avoid milk products because they increase the amount and thickness of your mucus


  • Wash your hands with soap and water often or use hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of germs
  • Use tissues to cover your sneezes and capture snot and promptly dispose of them
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow when coughing or sneezing
  • Don’t share beverages, utensils or toothbrushes with others

Contact Health Services

If your symptoms worsen over 3-5 days, do not improve in 7 days, or you develop new symptoms.