Guidance for Respiratory Viruses
Treatment for Respiratory Viruses

Respiratory Viruses

Many different viruses can infect the respiratory system which includes the sinuses and lungs. Some of these, like the common cold, cause mild symptoms and no serious harm. Influenza (flu), COVID-19, and RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) can cause mild symptoms, severe illness, or even death.

Tests for these three common viruses can be benefical. COVID tests can be done at home. Tests for all three viruses can be obtained by a medical provider. Anti-viral medication is useful for some people with influenza or COVID.

Seek health care right away for testing and/or treatment if you believe you may have a respiratory virus (if you feel sick or tested positive for one) and you have risk factors for severe illness. If you have flu or COVID-19, treatment may be an option to make your symptoms less severe and shorten the time you are sick. Treatment needs to be started within a few days of when your symptoms begin.

Protect Others From Infection

If you have one of these viruses you should take precautions to decrease the chance that the infection will then spread to someone else. Even if you have only mild or moderate symptoms another person may be more vulnerable and become severely ill.


Vaccinations are available against influenza, COVID and RSV. These vaccinations decrease the chance that a person will develop severe disease. 

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