Colds, flu, sore throat and cough.
The airways are divided into upper and lower airways. The upper respiratory tract consists of the mouth, nose, sinuses, pharynx and larynx. The lower airways consist of the trachea and all the tracheal bifurcations.
The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by a virus. Upper respiratory tract infection means inflammatory changes in the nose, throat and trachea.
The condition is characterized by sore throat, lethargy and low-grade fever. These symptoms disappear within a few days and are followed by nasal congestion, runny nose and cough that appear within 24 to 48 hours after the first symptoms.
Almost the entire population is affected one or more times a year by the common cold. Toddlers have an average of 7-9 colds a year, while adults have around 1-2 colds per year. Children from six months to 3 years of age are particularly often affected.
Influenza is an inflammation of the airways caused by the flu virus. The condition usually causes fever, lethargy, dry cough, headache and muscle / joint pain. Colds and sore throats as well are not uncommon.
After a few days, the cough may become looser and you may get mucus and sputum. Poor appetite, abdominal pain and possible vomiting are also not uncommon, especially in children.
The disease often occurs in epidemics, ie at a given time there are a large number of patients in the population. Such epidemics occur almost every year during the winter months, from late December to early March.
Influenza is a major cause of illness and death. Increased mortality from influenza primarily affects the risk groups that have been weakened in advance due to chronic illness or old age.
Therefore, FHI and EYR recommend an annual flu vaccine, especially if you are at risk.
Sore throat is an acute upper respiratory tract infection that affects the lining of the throat. 70% of cases are due to viral infections. Throat infections are self-limiting, the complications are rare and the ailments are often mild to moderate.
Sore throat with streptococcal infection causes fever, the patient is usually ill, may have difficulty swallowing and often speaks in a muddy voice. Typically there is the absence of cough. It looks classic big, red almonds with plaster stains. There may be swollen lymph nodes and rashes on the neck, groin and armpits.
Streptococcal throat is treated with antibiotics.
Kissing disease - mononucleosis
Large variation in symptoms from moderate to general symptoms. There are often pronounced local symptoms from the throat and a prolonged course of the disease. The patient has a reduced general condition, swollen lymph nodes in the throat, redness in the throat and 50% has a coating on the tonsils. The disease goes away on its own and rarely requires medical treatment.
Coughing is essential for the defense of the lower respiratory tract, and people with impaired cough reflex (infants, the elderly, alcoholics, stroke patients) are more prone to pneumonia.
Cough can be a symptom of several things and we divide cough:
- acute cough lasting less than 3 weeks,
- subacute cough lasting 3-8 weeks
- chronic (prolonged) cough lasts more than 8 weeks.
Coughs lasting less than 3 weeks often occur in connection with colds and the flu, but can also be seen with worsening of asthma, allergies or other irritation.
If the patient has a high fever above 38.5 degrees over several days, pneumonia should be ruled out.
Prolonged cough requires a more detailed examination and should always be examined physically by a doctor to rule out more serious illness.
What can I do myself?
Rest and tranquility are important to give the body a chance to recover. With a high fever, it is important to have plenty of fluids. The flu is treated as a common cold.
A child with a cold / flu can return to the nursery when the fever is gone and the general condition allows it.
It is common to use antipyretic and painkillers (paracetamol is preferred) if you need it. The medicines alleviate the ailments, but they do not shorten the course of the disease.
Antibiotics only help against bacteria and therefore have no effect against influenza virus or colds, but are relevant in the treatment of streptococci and pneumonia.
It is very important not to use antitussives, as long as a cough is productive with mucus, as this increases the risk of pneumonia.
What can Eyr help with?
- Eyr can assess colds and flu as well as provide guidance on treatment.
- Eyr can assess whether there is a risk of streptococcal infection or kissing disease.
- Eyr can assess whether it is relevant to visit the emergency room.
- Eyr may prescribe antitussives (excluding cosylan), renew asthma medications or other regular prescriptions
- Eyr will not prescribe antibiotics
Reference: Norwegian Medical Handbook, NEL. Edited and medically quality assured by Dr. Theresa Franck, specialist in general medicine.