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Know symptoms of URIs

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Winter is here and many people suffer from the effects of cold damp temperatures.

Those effects could result in Upper Respiratory tract Infections, or URIs, which is a common sickness this time of year. The upper respiratory tract includes: the nose, nasal cavity, larynx, trachea and some of the sinuses and air cells.

Common URIs includes colds, flu and sore throat.

Most people have a minimum of two colds per year. Children tend to get more URIs than adults.

The virus is usually spread by direct contact, but it can also be spread through coughing and sneezing. A virus can be spread from the hands to the upper respiratory tract by touching the eyes, nose or mouth.

The Center for Disease Control recommends rest and plenty of fluids as treatment for URIs. Over-the-counter cold, flu, sinus remedies and pain relievers may provide temporary relief from symptoms, but do not shorten the duration of the infection.

Gargling with salt water may relieve sore throat symptoms. A steaming bowl of soup can also help relieve congestion.

Antibiotics are not effective in treating viral infections and are only prescribed when the cause of symptoms are bacterial, such as with strep throat, tonsillitis, earaches or sinus infections.

Prevention techniques include frequent hand washing and vaccines. For example, the flu shot can be given to high-risk individuals every fall to help prevent the flu.

See your primary care manager whenever cold symptoms do not go away within a reasonable period of time, worsen or include high fever, earache, severe headache and a severe sore throat.

For more information about URIs, call the 460th Public Health Community Health Office at 720-847-6454 or visit http://www.medicineonline.com/articles/u/2/upper-respiratory-infection.html.
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