PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — If you’re coughing and stuffy, you aren’t alone. Doctors are getting pummeled by cases like this.

“Mostly, it’s not the flu. It’s usually a virus that causes the upper respiratory infection. It’s not the flu,” says Dr. Thomas Campbell, an emergency department physician at Allegheny General Hospital.

The emergency department at a local hospital is actually full, and a sizeable chunk is because of these illnesses.

“About 20 percent are upper respiratory illness, cough and colds,” Dr. Campbell continues.

Unfortunately, vaccines are available only for the flu.

Other respiratory viruses, such as coronavirus, adenovirus, and rhinovirus, have no specific treatment, and just have to run their course.

“Usually over-the-counter medications work very well, some Tylenol, acetaminophen for comfort, over-the-counter cough preparations,” advises Dr. Campbell. “Plenty of rest, lots of liquids to drink, and it usually takes its time. Gets better in five to seven days, and can take up to two weeks.”

Many people go home to recuperate, but some end up in the hospital, even the intensive care unit.

“Rarely, a person will have to be admitted, and usually it’s because it’s complicating another medical problem. And in the extremely rare case, we’ve had to have someone go to the intensive care unit, because the virus has been so bad that they require some artificial ventilation,” he says.

Because these viruses are transmitted through the air and on contaminated hands, your best protection is to avoid crowds and to wash your hands.

“Keep your hands clean,” says Dr. Campbell. “This is probably a time of year where if you can avoid shaking hands, just do a little wave.”

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