Respiratory Virus? When to see a doctor
12/4/2015 2:21 PM
With dropping temperatures, this is the time of year when people are spending more time in close contact indoors. This makes us more susceptible to contracting a respiratory virus.
Symptoms of a respiratory virus include fever, cough, congestion, a runny nose, sneezing and sinus pressure. With any virus, there is no cure or quick fix, just symptom management. Respiratory viruses typically last seven to 10 days (and longer if you are a smoker). The third and fourth days are typically the worst, and although you may feel tempted to go to the doctor, it may not be necessary.
If you have been sick for a week and something changes—such as suddenly developing a fever, difficulty breathing or tooth pain that you didn’t have before—that’s when you should probably see a doctor. With babies, if they are not producing a wet diaper every six hours, it’s time for a doctor’s visit because this could be a sign of dehydration. If a fever persists for more than three to four days, a doctor can help determine if there is something else going on such as an ear infection.
There are many over-the-counter treatments that can help you get through the worst part of a respiratory virus. Decongestants, cough suppressants, expectorants and nasal saline can be obtained without a prescription. Keep in mind that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are not recommended for children under the age of six.
For more useful health tips from Central Texas Medical Center, visit CTMC’s YouTube channel at YouTube.com/CTMCSanMarcos.
About the Author
Amy Hernandez, MD, is a primary care physician who sees patients at the Live Oak Health Partners clinic in Wimberley, Texas.