Respiratory Illness

Overview|Assessing Respiratory Illness Symptoms|COVID-19 Testing|Self-Care Guide

Respiratory Illness Overview

Respiratory infections are caused by organisms such as viruses or bacteria that affect the airway and lungs. The organisms can be spread by coughing, sneezing or face-to-face contact.

Symptoms of respiratory illness include cough, runny or stuffy nose and sore throat, which may be caused by one of the following:

  • COVID-19
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  • Rhinovirus and other viruses that cause the common cold

Assessing Respiratory Illness Symptoms

If you are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness, use the assessment tool to help decide if you should talk to someone about your symptoms or need additional care, or if you are recommended to have COVID-19 testing. You can complete an assessment for yourself or another person, like a child/youth or someone else you are caring for.

Launch Assessment

COVID-19 Testing

Change or Cancel a COVID-19 Test Appointment

If you already booked a COVID-19 test online and would like to reschedule or cancel go to the page below.

Modify an Appointment

Testing for Healthcare Workers & Workers in High-Risk Settings

Use the assessment tool to determine if you need to book a COVID-19 test.

Launch Assessment

There are several different COVID-19 testing options available to Albertans, depending on the scenario and specific eligibility criteria.

Rapid Testing At Home

Pending availability, free COVID-19 rapid testing kits can be picked up at these locations. Please note:

  • Hospitals are not distributing rapid test kits.
  • Rapid test kits cannot be used for travel.

Molecular Testing (e.g. PCR)

Free molecular (PCR) testing at an AHS Assessment Centre is available for eligible individuals. A physician referral may be required before booking an appointment. Please use the respiratory illness assessment tool to find out if you are eligible for COVID-19 testing and if so, book a test online.

Private Testing

If you require COVID-19 testing outside of the public testing program (e.g. for travel), a variety of fee-for-service options are available through the private sector, including DynaLIFE Medical Labs, Numi Health, Equity Health Services and some pharmacies.

Self-Care Guide

Tips to Manage Mild Symptoms at Home

  • Stay home and get extra rest to help stop the virus from spreading to others and to help you feel better.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to replace those you lost and to make your throat feel better. Drink enough fluids to keep your urine pale yellow.
  • To help clear a stuffy nose, breathe moist air from a hot shower or a sink filled with hot water.
  • Apply a bit of petroleum jelly to the sore skin around your nose and lips. Always wash your hands after touching your face.
  • Raise your head with an extra pillow if coughing keeps you awake at night.
  • Try acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) to relieve body aches, headaches, and fever. Carefully read and follow all directions on the package. Cough and cold medicines may not be safe for young children or people who have certain health problems.
  • Don't smoke or breathe second-hand smoke, especially when you have an illness that can affect your breathing.
  • Cough medicine (cough suppressant) can help a dry, hacking cough. Ask your pharmacist which one is right for you. Children under 6 years should not use cough medicine.
  • To soothe a sore throat, suck on throat lozenges or plain, hard candy. Don't give these to children under 6 years.
  • Don't take antihistamines. They don't treat respiratory illness symptoms and could make nasal drainage thicker.
  • For comfort, you can sponge your body with lukewarm water to lower your fever. Lowering the fever will not make your symptoms go away but it can make you more comfortable.
  • For a stuffy nose, use salt water (saline) nose drops or rinses to loosen the dried mucus.
  • Follow the exact directions for taking any prescription medicines.

Additional Resources to Manage Mild Symptoms at Home

Resources are available to help you manage mild symptoms at home or take care of someone that is sick. Most respiratory illnesses do not require additional care.

Resources for Recovery After Being Sick

Recovery and rehabilitation after being sick can be challenging, but there are resources to help: