Tips for Treating the Common Cold<br />
Tips for Treating the Common Cold

A viral infection of the respiratory tract, there is no cure for a cold. Sneezing, coughing and body aches are enough to send us running to the nearest pharmacy; choosing the right medication is yet another challenge. But before filling the basket with cough and cold remedies, it’s wise to implement the following self-care suggestions to help alleviate cold symptoms and to help the body recover:

  • Drink plenty of fluids and keep hydrated
  • Maintain a healthy balanced diet
  • Sleep, rest and relax
  • Refrain from activities that can further irritate the respiratory tract, such as smoking
  • Decongestants alone may help with nasal symptoms
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, help in relieving pain and fever
  • Antibiotics are not beneficial in treating the common cold

What are the best over-the-counter medications for reducing cold symptoms?
Antihistamines combined with decongestants, pain relievers or both are more effective than antihistamines alone in reducing cold symptoms in older children and adults. Some common combinations you may see in the pharmacy:
Antihistamine: diphenhydramine or chlorpheniramine
Decongestant: phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine
Pain reliever: acetaminophen or ibuprofen

What are the side effects of these medications?

Some of these medications may cause side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth and dizziness. Always read the active ingredients, side effects and the dosing instructions carefully for children and adults. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask your health care provider or pharmacist.

How does cold medicine affect those with high blood pressure?

Because decongestants, such as phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine, can further increase blood pressure, try to avoid cold medications that contain them. Consider using saline nasal sprays to relieve nasal congestion. For pain relief, consider using acetaminophen instead of an NSAID like ibuprofen. Though not directly, ibuprofen can also affect blood pressure.

What are ways to keep from spreading the cold while sick?

  • Avoiding contact when you are sick
  • Using and disposing of tissue appropriately when coughing or sneezing
  • Disinfecting community surfaces like kitchen counters and doorknobs

How long does a cold usually last?
Colds usually resolve within a week but the symptoms, such as cough, may persist longer. Even after all the symptoms have resolved, continuing the self-care suggestions of eating healthy and getting rest will help prevent future colds.