As the fall and winter months approach primary doctors start to see an increase in complaints about respiratory infections. These types of infections are most commonly an upper respiratory infection, or URI. They are often diagnosed as acute bronchitis, acute sinusitis, or the “common cold” but almost always these conditions are caused by a viral infection. Viruses are difficult to treat and unlike most bacterial infections, we do not have therapies to cure them.
We may not be able to cure them, but there are things that can be done to alleviate symptoms. Many over-the-counter medications and prescription medications are able to help. In my practice I recommend a combination of Mucinex DM and Sudafed. Sudafed PE is used if the patient has elevated blood pressure issues. These medications help to decrease the amount of nasal congestion, break up the thick mucus in the nose and lungs, and help to decrease coughing. Benadryl or Unisom can be added at night to help you sleep.
When patients develop symptoms of the common cold, it usually starts mild. Patients usually do not have fever, but it is possible. If so, the fever usually only lasts for one day and typically occurs in the first 72 hours. Patients then begin to complain of nasal congestion and a mild sore throat which typically will be worse in the morning. By day five, a mild cough develops which is worse at night and in the morning. The cough can be dry or it can be productive (such as coughing up phlegm). The color of the nasal congestion or mucus from a cough can be clear, yellow, or green. The color does not have any significance as to whether the infection is bacterial or viral. By the end of the first week most of the nasal congestion has resolved, and the patient is left with a cough that can last for another 2-4 weeks.
Dr. Michael Konopacki is with the HealthTexas Hill Country Clinic offering the best primary care in Borene.