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Viral URI Treatment

Symptom  
Management

Boost  
Immune System

 
INEFFECTIVE

 
Increase Fluids

(+): water, soup

(-): caffeine, alcohol

 

Increase # of pillows

Improves sleep with cough/postnasal drip

 

Menthol Rub 
Improves cough, especially in kids

 

Intranasal Ipratroprium (Atrovent) 
May reduce cough in adults

 

Oral Decongestants +/- Anti-histamine 
- Contraindicated < 5yo due to higher mortality, no benefit

- May decrease cough/congestion

- Avoid nasal decongestant: habit forming when used for > 3 days

 
Zinc Lozenges

May shorten URI by 1-2 days, especially if started < 24 hours of onset of URI Sx’s

 

NSAIDs/Acetaminophen

Reduces discomfort/improves sleep

 

Inhalers (Albuterol, Steroid)

Useful for reactive airway symptoms  
secondary to bronchitis

 

Honey at Bedtime 
- Effective for cough and sleep quality 
- More effective in kids than adults

Do not use <1 yo

 

Lactobacillus casei (probiotic) 
Decreased URI severity/duration

when taken daily by older adults

 
 
Rest

8-10 hours/night

No evidence to restrict exercise

 
Limit Alcohol

 
Better Nutrition

 

 
Stress Management

 

Physician empathy towards patients

 

 

Antibiotics 
 
Antihistamines alone 
 
Echinacea

 

OTC antitussives

 

Expectorants

 

Umcka

 

Vit C

 

Codeine

Effectiveness = Placebo

Contraindicated in kids

Intranasal Corticosteroids

Only effective if allergic component

QUESTIONABLE

Isotonic Nasal Saline/Neti Pot

May reduce congestion in acute URI (low level evidence) but more effective in chronic sinusitis

Steam Inhalation

May reduce congestion; Low level evidence

 

 

Author(s): Wayne Altman, M.D.
Created: Thursday November 1, 2012
Modified: Monday April 6, 2020

Copyright Information: Copyright 2012, Tufts University

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