Different viruses of the upper respiratory tract – what to do to improve health

Various upper respiratory viruses continue to spread rapidly this season – both what we call the common cold and those that attract more attention and cause more serious problems, such as the flu or the respiratory syncytial virus, which is dangerous for babies. How, when you feel the first symptoms, do you know if it’s worth getting worried and what course of the disease to prepare for – say family doctor and on-call doctor in the “Association of Health Centers” Kristīne Astra and pharmacist Ieva Virza of “Mēnes Aptiekas”.

Kristine Astra, a family doctor and on-call doctor at the Association of Health Centers, says: “There are really many people who are sick at the moment, and most of the time it is not diagnosed exactly what virus each patient has. However, there are clues that point to this or another possible type of virus. For example, a rapid onset of illness with a high temperature may indicate the flu. The rest of the symptoms are similar to many respiratory viruses and can be conditionally lumped together and treated as a regular seasonal respiratory virus infection.”

Serious attention should be paid to the course of the disease if there is influenza or respiratory syncytial virus. Here is how the doctor explains the course of these diseases!


A flu patient is most contagious to other people the day before symptoms appear and in the first 3-4 days of illness. Young children and the elderly, as well as people with weakened immune systems, can be infectious for a longer period of time.

Risk groups for influenza are young children, pregnant women, the elderly, people with chronic diseases and those with metabolic disorders, overweight.

How to understand if it is the flu?

In most cases, it is not diagnosed in the doctor’s office or in the laboratory, because the treatment of the disease can be done at home, reducing the symptoms of the flu. It is true that it is possible to perform an express test for influenza A and B viruses, which is offered, for example, by the “Central Laboratory”. If the diagnosis of influenza has been confirmed, the doctor can recommend a prescription medication – an antiviral drug, which is important to start taking in the first two days of the illness.

Flu symptoms

Acute onset.

Fever, elevated (above 38°C) body temperature.

Weakness, headache, muscle pain.

At least one of the respiratory symptoms – stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath.

All the listed symptoms are not always and not present in all flu patients.

What to do?

“Elevated body temperature should be reduced if it causes discomfort. It most often occurs when the temperature exceeds 38°C.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which are available at the pharmacy without a prescription, can be used to lower the temperature. Effectiveness can be assessed approximately 40 minutes after their use. It should be noted that it is not necessary to lower the temperature to normal, it is enough if it drops by one degree,” says the family doctor.

Pharmacist Ieva Virza of “Mēnes Aptiekas” points out: “Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, acetylsalicylic acid, dexketaprofen, can be used for up to three days, but should not be used for more than three days without consulting a doctor. Paracetamol is contained in different forms of medicine – syrups, hot drinks, suppositories, so you have to be careful – you should not use several paracetamol-containing products at the same time.”

It is important to take in a sufficient amount of total fluid.

For adults, it is at least two liters per day, for a child aged one to three years – 1-1.2 liters, for a 4-6-year-old child – 1.5 liters per day and for a 7-10-year-old child – 1.5-1.75 liters per day,” explains the doctor and adds that if the symptoms are accompanied by cough, it is important to provide cool and moist air indoors. Over-the-counter cough syrup can be used. The pharmacist states: “When choosing an antitussive agent in the case of a respiratory virus infection, it is important to know what type of cough is present in the specific phase of the disease – dry or productive. In case of dry cough, syrup containing Icelandic lichen, pine buds, altea, anise is recommended, in case of very dry, irritating cough, syrup containing codeine. In case of a productive cough – syrups containing sedum, ivy, carbocisteine, ambroxol, bromhexine.”

When should you call an emergency?

An adult patient should seek emergency medical help if:

there is a constant fever for five days, the body temperature is above 38°C and it cannot be lowered with over-the-counter medicines;

apathy, drowsiness occurs;

oxygen saturation (as measured by an oximeter) falls below 93.

A child should call emergency services immediately if:

body temperature is higher than 38°C degrees, in an infant younger than 3 months;

body temperature is higher than 38°C degrees and pronounced drowsiness – difficult to wake up;

the body temperature is higher than 38°C degrees and there are signs of dehydration – dry mucous membranes, retracted fontanel, the child urinates little;


breathing difficulties – the auxiliary muscles of breathing are involved, the intercostal spaces are drawn in;

bluish skin tone.

You should definitely try to put the baby to the breast more often.

Flu prevention

“The best flu prevention is, of course, vaccination. It is usually done in the fall, just before an outbreak of flu, but vaccinated people can

s also now. Immunity develops within 10 days after receiving the vaccine. It should be noted that certain groups of the population can receive the full amount of the flu vaccine paid for by the state. Such are, for example, pregnant women (in any week of pregnancy), children from six to 23 months of age, seniors after 65 years, as well as patients with chronic diseases, health care workers. You can specify whether this advantage also applies to you by looking for information on the website of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (SPKC) or by asking your family doctor,” says Kristīne Astra and reminds that prevention methods such as room ventilation and hand hygiene are still relevant. , staying at home if you show any signs of illness, and wearing a face mask on public transport and in places where people gather.

The pharmacist adds that the body’s ability to resist viral infections also depends on the daily diet, which includes substances necessary for the functioning of all body systems. “If the diet is not complete, it is recommended to additionally take minerals and vitamins. Complex vitamins should be used for prevention – nutritional supplements of vitamins and plant extracts. In the initial stages of the disease, vitamins, minerals and plant extracts are recommended, which have a faster and more effective immune-boosting action, such as vitamin D3, vitamins A, B6, B9, zinc and selenium, black elder, lime flowers, echinacea.”

Respiratory syncytial virus or RSV

Respiratory syncytial virus is active this winter. In an adult, it usually does not manifest itself differently, like any seasonal respiratory virus, but parents of infants should be especially careful – in children up to 6 months of age, RSV may require hospital treatment.

Manifestations of RSV

The disease begins like a common cold – there is an increased body temperature, a stuffy nose. Cough appears on the second third day of illness.

“The virus is dangerous due to the development of bronchiolitis – inflammation of the smaller bronchi. Bronchioles become swollen, easily blocked, obstructing breathing. Children under two years of age have a higher risk of severe disease. A severe course of RSV and bronchiolitis caused by the virus is indicated by:

rapid breathing;

contraction of the intercostal muscles when breathing;

nostrils expand when inhaling;

breathing difficulties;

bluish skin due to lack of oxygen in the body;

strong cough without stopping;

fever is difficult to reduce with medication – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs do not help;

the child is lethargic, apathetic, does not respond to awakening.

These are “red flag” symptoms. If there are, then you mustn’t be late – you must definitely call emergency medical help!” says the doctor.

Universal recommendations for respiratory viral infections

If there is any sign of viral infection, stay home.

Drink plenty of fluids as it dissolves secretions.

To clean the nose, you can perform warm steam inhalations and, if necessary, blow into the nose an over-the-counter preparation – a decongestant. It should be borne in mind that these medications should not be used for more than seven days.

Hypertonic saline will help with thick nasal secretions that need to be dissolved to help them drain. However, if you have a dry, stuffy nose, salt water can only dry it out more.

At the first sore throat, it should not be rinsed with salt water – this method should remain in case of purulent inflammation, for example, angina. It is better to use an oil-based spray that contains sea buckthorn, St. John’s wort, tea tree, calendula, and mallow oils, the oil will coat, soothe, restore and protect the mucous membrane of the throat.

Hot and cold foods and drinks should be avoided.

Cold compresses on the forehead can help to lower the child’s temperature. It is recommended to avoid using diapers (they can contribute to maintaining a high body temperature).

When treating a child at home, you should carefully follow the drug instructions, where the dose of the drug is usually indicated, according to the child’s body weight. An insufficient dose will not provide a therapeutic effect, while an inappropriately high dose may harm health.

Humidify indoor air if it is too dry. With a small child, you can stay in the bathroom for a while, where hot water poured into the bath will create a sauna effect, and warm steam inhaled will be like inhalation, which can help to clear the nose and cough.

For older children and adults, breathing exercises, such as lozenges, blowing a balloon, are useful to promote expectoration.

If an adult has a dry cough, inhalations can be made to warm the bronchi and promote expectoration.

If you have a non-productive, dry, paroxysmal cough, expectorants should not be used, as they may make the coughing fits worse. Cough relievers will work better.

It should be noted that after an acute viral infection, a slight cough may persist for another two weeks.


Viral infections are not treated with antibiotics! Only if a bacterial infection is added as a complication, antibiotic therapy may be necessary, but this can only be prescribed by a doctor.

Lung x-ray ve

ic only in special cases and it is decided by the doctor.

If a respiratory virus infection develops “as usual” and none of the above-mentioned alarming signs are observed, the emergency service should not be called. First of all, you should consult your family doctor, call the family doctor’s hotline or consult the doctor on duty at the polyclinic.

If you fall ill with a respiratory virus, you do not need to go to the family doctor – it is possible to open the sick leave page for three days remotely by consulting your family doctor or doctor on call at the polyclinic.

Consultation on suitable therapy to alleviate symptoms can also be obtained 24/7 on weekends and holidays, as well as on weekdays from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., by calling the family doctor’s consultation phone number 66016001.

If a child is ill, advice on what to do can be obtained by contacting the family doctor during his working hours, or by calling the pediatric consultation telephone number of the Children’s Clinical University Hospital 26112887, which is available on weekends and public holidays from 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. and every day (working days, holidays, public holidays) from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.

“Association of Health Centers” is one of the largest private healthcare companies in Latvia with branches in Riga, Jūrmala, Liepāja, Daugavpils, Tals, Madon, Bauska and Saldus. More than 1,500 VCA employees provide services in 120 specialties and service areas.

Zaļā Josta - Reklāma