It’s a virus so what can you do?

Published in Wellness, Family Medicine

We’re seeing a high number of people in our clinics with coughs, stuffy noses, head congestion and sore throats.  So what can you do at home that will help you get better and when should you seek medical attention?

Outlasting the virus

Most viral illnesses last 7-10 days, with day 4 and day 5 being the peak; things tend to start getting better after that.  The number one cause of a sore throat is post-nasal drip.  If you are able to clear up the nasal passages either with a nasal decongestant or nasal saline rinse that will really help with the rest of your symptoms.  Finding a “cold medicine” that works for you tends to be a bit of trial and error.  The original Sudafed is a very effective nasal decongestant and is still available if you talk to your pharmacist.  Contact your physician if you have heart disease or high blood pressure before using cold medicines.

If your symptoms persist for longer than 7-10 days, it might be possible that you have a bacterial infection on top of the viral infection that can sometimes be treated with an antibiotic.  That’s when it’s time to come in and see the doctor for sure!  Otherwise, it’s mainly symptom control.

When to treat fevers

Don’t get too concerned about fevers or the exact degree measurement of the temperature.  You aren’t really considered a to be “running a temperature” until 100.4 °F, so anything lower than that is considered to be within normal limits for natural variation of body temperature.  If you’re feeling really cruddy and have a fever then go ahead and treat it, otherwise if you can tolerate it, let it go because fever is the body’s natural defense against the virus as it tries to get rid of it.  You can use Tylenol, Motrin or Aleve as directed to treat fever and body aches, push fluids and get lots of rest; all those things that your grandma would tell you to do.

Ultimately, if you are concerned you can call your doctor or come in to the clinic, but the more people we can keep out of the clinic with those viral syndromes the less people are going to pick them up.