Typically the constellation of symptoms of coughing, sore throat
and congestion are the result of a viral infection, such as the common cold. These symptoms can linger for a while, but most people have improvement or resolution of symptoms within one to two weeks. Generally, symptomatic treatment is the preferred route, including nasal decongestants, nasal saline spray, and throat lozenges to soothe your sore throat.
The viral syndrome that you are likely describing will not respond to antibiotics, as these medications are only effective against bacteria. Bacterial infections tend to be more severe than viral infections, usually causing fevers and generalized weakness. Strep throat (also known as Streptococcal pharyngitis) can present somewhat similar to a viral respiratory infection, but usually presents with fever
, absence of cough, a coating of the tonsils in the back of the throat, and tender enlarged lymph nodes in the neck.
If your symptoms do not get better in the next few days or you develop any further symptoms that are concerning to you, such as fever or shortness of breath, then you should see your primary care physician
for further work-up. Additionally, you should know that stopping smoking is the best possible thing you can do for your health at this point.