Lisa Rankin, MD PA

Healthcare for the Whole Family

Associate Professor of Medicine, Florida State University

What's Going Around in the Community?

Colds and Upper Respiratory Infections


Colds, upper respiratory infections, and URIs are common terms we use to describe viral illnesses that cause nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, fever, and cough. The fever usually lasts for 2-3 days, and the cough with congestion and runny nose may last for 5-10 days. The typical preschool-age child may experience 6-10 colds per year. Most colds resolve on their own with rest and fluids, but some may lead to ear infection, sinus infection, asthma attack, or other complications. If you are concerned about the possibility of one of these complications, please have your child seen in our office for an evaluation.



We are currently seeing children and adolescents with cough, typically one of the most prominent and bothersome symptoms of viral respiratory infections at this time of year. Coughing is an important and beneficial reflex that our bodies need to clear secretions and to keep open our major airways during the course of a viral cold or upper respiratory infection. However, severe or persistent cough can be associated with asthma, pneumonia, sinus infections, and bronchiolitis, and should be evaluated by your health care provider.

See Also : Colds , Cough



Among the many viruses we see causing respiratory illness right now, the influenza virus can be particularly severe. Commonly called "the flu," this virus typically causes respiratory (nose/mouth/breathing) symptoms, rather than stomach symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. The "flu shot" or the nasal FluMist that has been administered to many people this fall protects against Influenza A and B. If you and/or your child received a flu shot or FluMist, you likely will be protected from infection this year. In those children and adults who did not receive a flu shot, infection with the influenza virus causes sudden onset of a fever, chills, dry cough, and muscle aches. Other symptoms include headache, fatigue, sore throat, and nasal congestion.

Some children are at increased risk of more serious illness from influenza, because of conditions such as diabetes, asthma, immunity problems, or being treated with immune-suppressing medications for other reasons. They are especially vulnerable to complications, and should be especially certain to get vaccinated (even this late in the season).

There is also a higher risk this season of infection with the H1N1 influenza virus. Symptoms are often similar to those of Influenza A and B. Any child with such symptoms should be evaluated by their health care provider.

Please refer to the What's New page of our website for more updated information on the availability of both the Inluenza A/B and H1N1 vaccines.

See Also : Influenza

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