A common cold typically lasts for anywhere between 5 and 10 days.
You may experience other associated symptoms, such as:
How is a common cold diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and do a physical examination to check if you have:
- Swelling or redness inside of your nose and throat
- Swollen lymph nodes (lumps) in the neck
- Congestion in the chest
Your doctor may order tests, including:
How to differentiate between a common cold and COVID-19
The common cold is so prevalent that most adults get it at least two times a year, whereas children typically get it three to four times a year. It rarely causes complications or turns life-threatening.
How to treat a common cold
Most often, your common cold is self-limiting and needs just a few, simple measures to get rid of it or ease your symptoms. These measures include:
- Getting plenty of rest
- Drinking enough water and staying hydrated
- Having warm soups, such as chicken soups
- Steam inhalation if you have nasal congestion
- Using room humidifiers in case of a stuffy nose
There are plenty of over-the-counter syrups and pills that are easily and widely available everywhere. The most common ingredients in them include:
- Decongestants: If you have a stuffy nose, you can try
- Antihistamines: If you suffer from sneezing and a watery nose, options include
- Cough suppressants: If you have a cough too, you may take
- Pain relievers: For fever and headaches, you can resort to
While these medications are effective and safe for you, they might not be safe for young children. Ask your doctor before you administer any cold medication to your kids.
How to prevent the cold from spreading
The most important factor that helps reduce the spread of cold is to practice good hygiene in all seasons, particularly during flu season. Here is what you should do.
- Cover your mouth and nose
- Your saliva and mucus are the main sources of transmission of the virus from your infected body to a healthy person around you.
- So, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze.
- In the absence of tissue, you can use the inside of your elbow to cover your mouth and nose during coughing or sneezing.
- Get rid of used tissues
- Have a habit of discarding the tissue immediately after using it.
- Use a new tissue every time you sneeze or cough and clean your hands with handwash or apply sanitizer.
- Maintain hand hygiene
- Every time you come in contact with your body fluids, wash your hands with soap or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
- Sanitize your hands before and after touching doorknobs, handles, and telephones.
- Avoid direct contact with people and maintain a safe distance from them.
- Avoid venturing out
- Prefer staying at home by taking leave from the office or school.
- If you cannot afford to avoid venturing out, try to maintain a six feet distance from people around you.
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Buensalido JAL. Rhinovirus (RV) Infection (Common Cold). Medscape. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/227820-overview
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Cold and Cough Medicine for Infants and Children
The safety of giving infants and children over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine is important for caregivers to understand. While there is no "gold standard" recommendation for giving infants and children OTC cold and cough medicine for fever, aches, cough, and runny nose, a few standards have been recommended.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine only be used in children age four years and older.
The American College of Chest Physicians recommend that these medicines only be used in children age 15 years and older.
The FDA recommends that OTC cold and cough medicine be used in children 2 years of age and older.
However, there is agreement in regard to which OTC medications should not be used in children under the age of four (or the age of two, depending upon which guidelines are used), and they are 1) certain antihistamines like brompheniramine, chlorpheniramine maleate, and diphenhydramine (Benadryl); 2) cough expectorants (guaifenesin); 3) cough suppressants (dextromethorphan, DM); and 4) decongestants (pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine).
Aspirin should never be given to infants, children, and adolescents due to the possibility of a rare, but often severe and even fatal illness called Reye's syndrome.
FDA. "Most Young Children with a Cough or Cold Don't Need Medicines." July 18, 2017.
FDA. "Use Caution When Giving Cough and Cold Products to Kids." Updated: Nov 04, 2016.
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