From the very serious to the simply annoying, upper respiratory infections affect millions of people each year.

An upper respiratory infection (URI), also known as the common cold, is one of the most frequent illnesses in the United States. URIs are estimated to generate more visits to health care providers and absences from school and work than any other illness.

During a one-year period, more than 1 billion people will suffer from some form of a cold. The prime seasons for colds are fall and winter, but people can start developing them as early as August and as late as April.

A child’s developing immune system and close contact with other children in schools and day cares are the primary reasons why they develop more colds than adults. Aside from staying away from people with colds, the most effective prevention method is regular hand washing.

There are many different types of viruses that cause a cold; in fact, over 200 different varieties of viruses can cause the symptoms. The most common are called rhinoviruses – derived from the Greek word for nose, as these symptoms impact the nasal system.

Typically, antibiotics will not help treat the common cold. It’s important to visit with your doctor or Sam’s Club Pharmacist to find the right medications to offer some relief for URI symptoms. Here’s a few of the things you can do on your own when you feel the onset of a cold.

  • Increase fluid intake to keep nose and throat moist and prevent dehydration.
  • Use saline nose drops to help relieve congestion.
  • Avoid giving aspirin to a child with a fever as it can lead to other complications.

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cold weather or getting a chill does not cause a URI. The reasons why colds are more common during the winter months are that people are staying indoors more because of the weather, schools are in session and low humidity is causing dry nasal passages.

If you or a loved one has symptoms lasting more than 10 days, or if their symptoms are not relieved by over-the-counter medications, you should contact your primary care physician.

Cold

Flu

SYMPTOMS

SYMPTOMS

Low or no fever

High fever

Sometimes a headache

Commonly a headache

Stuffy, runny nose

Sometimes a stuffy nose

Sneezing

Sometimes sneezing

Mild, hacking cough

Cough, may progress

Slight aches and pains

Often severe aches and pains

Mild Fatigue

Fatigue may persist

Sore throat

Sometimes a sore throat

Normal energy level

Exhaustion

200+: The number of viruses related to the common cold.

  • 8: The average number of colds a child will develop in a year.
  • 4: The average number of colds an adult will develop in a year.
  • 100.5°: When a fever reaches this temperature or higher, it’s time to see your doctor.