RESPIRATORY INFECTION

COLD / SINUS CONGESTION / SORE THROAT / COUGH

 

MOST RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS DO NOT REQUIRE TREATMENT FROM A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.  Here is why and what you can do: 

If you get sick with cold / flu symptoms (and are generally healthy age 2-65 [without severe symptoms such as persistent fever (temperature >100.4 Farhenheit), tachycardia (pulse >100 beats/minute), rapid breathing (>24 breaths/minute), severe fatigue, severe pain, dizziness, confusion, or vomiting], it is unlikely you will need professional medical treatment.  If you have any of these symptoms, otherwise have any problems, or just want to see a doctor, please (call back to) schedule an appointment.  (The exception is for strep throat; please click here to view the STREP THROAT DECISION TOOL.  Even so, keep in mind 70% of children and 90% of adults with pharyngitis (throat infections) have a viral infection.)  >90% of cases of acute cough illness are non-bacterial.  >95% of patients with phlegm (productive cough) do not have pneumonia.

 

 

 

Potentially Harmful Over-The-Counter (OTC) Medicines

    - AVOID DECONGESTANTS!  Decongestants are alpha 1 stimulants constricting blood vessels thus reducing blood flow to the nose and elevating blood pressure.  They seem to work in the short-term, but long-term when the effect wears off often cause rebound congestion worse than the original congestion (e.g. neosynephrine, phenylephrine, psuedoephedrine)

   - avoid alcohol: present in many "nighttime medications", usually gives you longer sleep, but does not give you as much deep Rapid Eye Movement (REM) restful sleep, alcohol also lowers your immune system and reduces your ability to fight infection

   - avoid dextromethorphan (unless you have a dry cough): this is a cough suppressant, not an expectorant, and can prevent mucous from coming out

 

HELPFUL OVER-THE-COUNTER MEDICINES [avoid if allergic]

NAME

PURPOSE / BENEFITS

USUAL ADULT DOSE
CHEST / VAPOR RUB (VICKS) 

CAMPHOR (from large thriving Japanese evergreen tree) + EUCALYPTUS (from large thriving Australian tree + MENTHOL (mint)

(e.g. Vicks Warm Steam Vaporizer ~$15-20 at pharmacy)

  • for wet or dry cough
  • cooling and soothing anti-inflammatory
  • opens up airways
  • great for coughs that get worse in cold at night
  • limits need to take OTC pills
  • excellent lifetime investment
  • works instantly and overnight

(keep away from eyes, mouth, and inside nostrils)

(keep hot water away from where children can reach)

rub onto chest, neck, nose, or under nostrils as needed

DIPHENHYDRAMINE
  • anti-histamine
  • makes blood vessels less leaky so reduces mucous production
  • great for allergies
25mg at bedtime as needed

(higher dose might make you drowsy the next day)

SALINE NASAL SPRAY

(salt water)

  • irrigation of nose and sinuses
  • great for those that don't like taking oral medicines
few sprays each nostril as needed
GUAIFENESIN
  • expectorant
  • loosens mucous to help it drain out
  • great for sinus congestion or wet cough
100-400mg every 4 hours as needed
ACETAMINOPHEN
  • reduces pain +/or fever
500-1000mg every 6 hours as needed
VITAMIN C (ascorbic acid)
  • boosts immune system
  • present in citrus fruits
GARLIC
  • boosts immune system
  • anti-infective: fights bacteria, virus, and fungus (unlike antibiotic Rx which only fight one of those categories)
ZINC
  • boosts immune system
FRUIT SMOOTHIES
  • helps sore throat
  • shrinks swelling in throat therefore improving swallowing
  • has natural vitamin C
  • delicious
HONEY +/- LEMON

(avoid if age <1 year because of botulism risk)

  • homemade natural cough remedy
(avoid if age <1 year because of botulism risk)

HONEY (1 spoon) + LEMON (couple drops) hourly as needed

WATER
  • natural cough remedy
4-8 oz hourly
GINGER TEA with HONEY or AGAVE NECTAR
  • invigorating
  • one of the best natural anti-inflammatories
  • delicious
  • ginger tea with honey is a time-honored ancient Ayurvedic medicine staple for general well-being
to taste

 

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