Holiday season is here. As friends and family gather indoors, wintertime bugs begin to thrive. Upper respiratory infections (URIs), also known as common colds, bring runny noses, sore throats, headaches, sneezing, and coughing.

All this mucus flying around spreads infections through the air or onto surfaces to cause about 1 billion URIs in the U.S. every year.1 Both children and adults are plagued by all this crumminess, leading to at least 22 million lost school days and 150 million lost workdays every year.2

So how much do you know about what causes this misery, and what you and your family can do to prevent it? Take our quiz to test your knowledge and learn more about upper respiratory infections.

1. Upper respiratory infections are caused by one main bug, the rhinovirus.

Answer: B-False. More than 200 different types of viruses can cause URIs. While rhinovirus in the most common, corona virus, parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, enterovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus can also cause upper respiratory illnesses.*

2. How long does an upper respiratory infection usually last?

Answer: B-7 to 10 days. URIs typically last one week, with minor symptoms lingering. If symptoms get worse after 10 days, produce a fever, or last longer than two weeks, consult a doctor about your condition and ways to treat it.

3. If your young child has an upper respiratory infection, they should be treated with:

Answer: E-None of the above. Over-the-counter cough and decongestant medicines are not recommended for young children. If your child’s infection is viral, antibiotics won’t help, either. Give fluids and encourage rest, consulting with a doctor about symptoms and potential relief from a URI.

4. What complications can come from an upper respiratory infection?

Answer: D-All of the above. While URIs are common and often heal on their own, they can sometimes lead to another infection that requires more aggressive treatment. Teladoc physicians are available on-demand to answer any questions.

5. What is the best way to prevent upper respiratory infections?

Answer: B-Practicing good hand hygiene. Washing your hands frequently—and always before eating—is the most effective way to stay healthy this season. There is no vaccine for URI, and no proof that vitamin C helps prevent or treat colds. It’s only a myth that going outside with a wet head or without a coat will make you sick.


As infection season continues through March, practice good hand hygiene, eat healthily, and try to get about eight hours of sleep a night. Focusing on overall wellness is your best shot at staying healthy, even though no one is immune to upper respiratory infections this time of year.

If you are suffering from a URI for longer than two weeks, or have complicating symptoms, a board-certified physician from Teladoc Health can suggest a treatment plan that gets you back to good health for plenty of holiday cheer. Our national network of physicians and pediatricians are available on demand, 24/7, to help resolve routine medical issues from anywhere, at any time. Download our app or sign in now to request a visit with one of our licensed doctors.

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