- Upper respiratory infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or other microscopic organisms.
- The common cold is the most common upper respiratory tract infection.
- More than 200 different viruses can cause colds.
- The CDC now recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months receive the flu vaccine every year. The only exceptions are for those allergic to the vaccine
- Two types of flu vaccine are available: a killed vaccine, given as an injection, and a live vaccine given as a nasal spray.
- As of August 2010, the World Health Organization declared the H1N1 pandemic over.
- H1N1 (the “swine flu”) is still circulating as one of the flu strains in the 2010 - 2011 flu season.
- The seasonal flu vaccine given during the 2010 - 2011 flu season also provides protection against H1N1.
Cold and Flu Treatments:
- Many people take medications to reduce mild pain and fever. Adults most often choose aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). Children should not take aspirin.
- A nasal wash can be helpful for removing mucus from the nose.
- Dozens of remedies are available that combine ingredients aimed at more than one cold or flu symptom. In general, they do no harm, but they have the following problems:
- Some ingredients may produce side effects without even helping a cold.
- In some cases, the ingredients conflict (such as a cough expectorant and a cough suppressant).
- In other cases, a patient may wish to increase the dosage to improve one symptom, which serves to increase other ingredients that do no good and, in higher doses, may cause side effects.
Review Date: 01/29/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.