Colds and respiratory infections

Posted 5/20/22

Many patients are coming into the office with respiratory infections.  

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Colds and respiratory infections


OKEECHOBEE — Many patients are coming into the office with respiratory infections.  

Colds are caused by viruses that don’t respond to antibiotics.  The infection usually lasts 1-3 weeks.  There is no high fever or colored sputum.  Zinc 75 mg daily has been shown to cut down the length and severity of the illness.  Vitamin C and echinacea don’t help. Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) can help a great deal with runny nose, sinus pressure and earaches.  I prefer Allegra (fexofenadine) D.  Some prescription nose sprays can be very helpful, but over the counter nasal sprays should be limited to 3 days of use.  Like other viruses, covid does not respond to  antibiotics.

If the sputum turns color you’ll likely need an antibiotic as a bacterial infection could be to blame.  Antibiotics can kill you, so its important to use them only when you are significantly sick.  Wheezing usually requires a course of steroids and possibly an inhaler.  Dextromethorphan is an effective over the counter cough medicine.  Its found is medications like Robitussin DM - the DM standing for dextromethorphan.

Influenza (flu) is also caused by a virus, so antibiotics won’t help.  Dominant symptoms of the flu are 102-104 fever and every muscle feeling like its been hit with a sledgehammer.  Flu kills many people. The flu vaccine lowers the risk of getting seriously ill.  There are medications that shorten the flu if taken early in the course.

Sinus infections rarely need antibiotics unless there is a high fever and the infection lasts one to two weeks.  Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) is most helpful here as it allows the sinuses to drain.  Steroids and prescription nasal sprays like Flonase (fluticasone) and azelastine can be helpful.

Most sore throats are caused by a virus, and antibiotics are ineffective.  Cold beverages and popsicles can make the throat less swollen and tender.  Strep throat usually has pus pockets, a fever, and tender lymph node enlargement in the neck.  It does respond to antibiotics.  Recurrent tonsillitis may require surgery to remove the tonsils. 

Dr. Heller, Okeechobee Family Practice