• Definition: Nonspecific URIs (the “common cold”) have no prominent localizing features.
  • Etiology: A wide variety of viruses (e.g., rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, parainfluenza viruses, influenza viruses, adenoviruses) can cause nonspecific URIs.
  • Clinical manifestations: an acute, mild, self-limited catarrhal syndrome, typically characterized by rhinorrhea, nasal congestion, cough, and sore throat
    • Hoarseness, malaise, sneezing, and fever are more variable.
    • The median duration of symptoms is ∼1 week (range, 2–10 days). Cough secondary to upper respiratory inflammation may last 2–3 weeks and does not necessarily indicate a need for antibiotics.
    • Secondary bacterial infections complicate 0.5–2% of colds and are associated with a prolonged course and/or increased severity of illness, often with localization of signs and symptoms. Purulent nasal and throat secretions are poor predictors of bacterial infection.
  • Treatment: Symptom-based treatment (e.g., with decongestants, NSAIDs) is typically all that is required. Antibiotics are not indicated.

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