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Treatments for Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza)

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Treatments for Viral Upper Respiratory Infections (Colds and Influenza)

Cold and flu symptoms usually go away on their own. Colds and the flu can sometimes worsen long term conditions such as diabetes, lung, or heart problems. Sometimes colds or the flu lead to other problems. Examples are ear or sinus infections or pneumonia.

The goals of treatment are to:

  • Ease symptoms
  • Manage other conditions so they do not worsen
  • Prevent other problems from developing.

Treatment involves the following:

There are no surgical procedures for the treatment of colds and influenza.


  • Common cold. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/respiratory-viruses/common-cold. Accessed March 11, 2022.
  • Influenza in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/influenza-in-adults. Accessed March 11, 2022.
  • Influenza. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/respiratory-viruses/influenza. Accessed March 11, 2022.
  • Upper respiratory infection (URI) in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/upper-respiratory-infection-uri-in-adults-and-adolescents-18 . Accessed March 11, 2022.


  • David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.