Treatment of the common cold

The common cold is exactly that…. Very common.

There are only a few safe and effective treatments available. 

Common cold symptoms: thin nasal drainage, nasal congestion, cough, sore throat, fatigue, low-grade fever.

Treatment: Antibiotics should NOT be used for an apparent viral respiratory illnesses.  This is because antibiotics work on bacteria, not on viruses.

Over the counter analgesics (acetaminophen or ibuprofen), zinc (80-92 mg a day), nasal decongestants (like Afrin for 3 days or less)with or without antihistamines and ipratropium for cough. Nasal saline (like a Neti Pot) irrigation helps.  Menthol rub may help “open up the chest.”  Honey is suggested for sore throat for patients OLDER than 12 months.  (Honey under 12 months could cause botulism.)

Maybe lactobacillus casei may help in older adults.

What should not be used: 1. No OTC cold medicines in children less than 4 years. 2. Codeine and other cough-suppressants have not been proven effective.

When should you expect to feel better?  Most colds last for one week.  It is common for a cough to last longer, especially in smokers.

When should the patient get follow up care?  If you have a fever higher than 101 degrees, productive cough, difficulty breathing, or very bad headaches.

To help decrease spread: Wash hands!

About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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