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Physician Visits for 'Colds'

Ralph Bookman, MD
JAMA. 1984;251(21):2793-2794. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340450021014.
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To the Editor.—  The article entitled "Reducing Physician Visits for Colds Through Consumer Education" in the Oct 21, 1983, issue of The Journal prompts me to comment.While I agree with the authors' criteria for symptoms of respiratory tract infections, I urge that the presence of purulent sputum be added to the list. The word colds as used in the title warrants some analysis. For many years I have been dismayed at the casual manner in which physicians accept this term without pursuing its meaning with the individual patient. Since I am, as a clinical allergist, concerned with the difference between a true cold of infectious etiology and allergic rhinitis, I make it a practice to require each patient to describe his or her symptoms, with highly variable results.I accept the term cold as an upper respiratory tract infection of three or four days' duration characterized by some fever,


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