Common Cold (cont.)

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What is the treatment for the common cold? Are there any home remedies for the common cold?

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There is no cure for the common cold. The common cold is a self-limited illness that will resolve spontaneously with time and expectant management. Home remedies and treatments are directed at alleviating the symptoms associated with the common cold while the body fights off the infection.

Home treatment for the common cold includes getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids. In older children and adults, over-the-counter medications such as throat lozenges, throat sprays, cough drops, and cough syrups may help relieve symptoms, though they will not prevent or shorten the duration of the common cold. Gargling with warm saltwater may help those with a sore throat. Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) or antihistamines may be used for nasal symptoms, while saline nasal sprays may also be beneficial. It is important to note that over-the-counter medications may cause undesirable side effects, therefore they must be taken with care as directed. Pregnant women should discuss the safety of over-the-counter medications with their pharmacist or health-care professional.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are over-the-counter analgesics that can help with fever, sore throat, headache, and body aches.

The treatment for infants and small children with the common cold is supportive as well. It is especially important to allow rest and encourage plenty of fluids in order to prevent dehydration. Nasal drops and bulb suctioning may be used to clear nasal mucus in infants. Medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen may be taken for pain or fever based on the package recommendations for age and weight. Do not use aspirin or aspirin-containing medications in children or teenagers because it has been associated with a rare, potentially fatal condition called Reye's syndrome. Finally, over-the-counter cough and cold medications for infants and young children are not recommended. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and manufacturers now recommend that over-the-counter cough and cold medications not be used in children younger than 4 years of age because of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

Alternative treatments to prevent or treat the common cold, such as vitamin C, zinc, and echinacea, have had mixed results in studies evaluating their effectiveness. Therefore, discuss these treatment options with a health-care professional.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/30/2015

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