Statistically, the majority of all general illnesses ("head cold" "sinus infection" "sore throat" "chest congestion") are VIRAL in origin and are self-limiting (see below for reference information). This is unfortunately contrary to thinking in a majority of the general population who believe that colds are bacterial and need antibiotics to get better. In addition, most of these common illnesses will improve without any intervention in a 3-7 day window, which is why most people's belief is reinforced by getting prescribed unnecessary antibiotics on 1-2 of not feeling well and then think the antibiotics are the reason they started feeling better.
Initial treatment for any of the upper body "colds" or sore throat are the same.
- Treat aches, pains, and low grade fevers with acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen per label instructions
- Treat symptoms as necessary for comfort and temporary relief using over the counter (OTC) medications.
- Remember most OTC cold meds have acetaminophen as a fever reducer so use caution when combining medications so you don't take too much.
- Medications with Dextromethrophan and Guafenesin work best for cough and chest congestion
- Antihistamines like diphenhydramine and chloropheniramine are drying agents for runny nose and work well for allergies
- Natural "Cures" like echinacea, zinc, Vit C, etc can be used if you've had benefit from them in the past.
- Chicken soup and other warm liquids help sooth sore throats and loosen congestion
- Use saline nasal drops for sinus congestion
- Gargle with warm saltwater for sore throat.
RED FLAGS TO WATCH FOR
These may indicate a need for more aggressive treatment or professional help
- Measured temp of 101.5F or higher
- Sinus pain accompanied by nosebleed
- Cough with blood-tinged sputum
- Headache pain with vision changes, light sensitivity, and/or dizziness
- Any illness not improving by day 4 or progressively worsening each day .
Contrary to popular belief, the color of drainage from sinus or coughed up sputum is not necessarily any indication of infection being bacterial or viral. Blood-tinged drainage or sputum, however, is more indicative of a bacterial or more serious infection process.
Inforamation for this page comes from mutiple publication searches on pubmed.gov