We haven't yet found a way to kill the viruses that cause the common cold. Antibiotics are not effective against colds because colds are caused by viruses. Antibiotics are only helpful for bacterial infections, and they may be used for someone who develops a bacterial infection as a complication of a cold.
Since there's no cure, a combination of coping strategies and medication can at least improve symptoms and keep you more comfortable.
- Bed rest for a day or two can help you feel better. While it won't clear up the cold any faster, staying in bed will avoid spreading it to others.
- If you are suffering with a cold you should keep comfortably warm and drink plenty of fluids. Hot fluids (such as chicken broth) can cut down on congestion.
- For a sore throat, a warm salt-water gargle may help. Humidifiers can keep the air moist in an effort to soothe coughs.
Medications can be used to relieve cold symptoms, but they won't make the cold go away any faster. These include:
- nasal decongestants, in pill, spray, or drops. People with heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, diabetes, glaucoma, or prostate enlargement, or those who are pregnant or breast-feeding, should talk to a doctor before taking these medications. Nasal decongestant sprays and drops shouldn't be used for more than 3 days because of the possibility of "rebound congestion," a condition where these forms of decongestants actually cause increased congestion.
- cough suppressants, which usually contain dextromethorphan.* These are readily available as over-the-counter medications. Unless otherwise instructed by a doctor, this medication should be used only for treatment of a "dry" cough. If the cough is "wet," meaning that mucus is being coughed up, cough suppressants should not be used. It is better to cough up and clear the mucus then to have it sit in the lungs where it can make the condition worse. People with increased cough and mucus production associated with conditions such as asthma and COPD (i.e., chronic bronchitis and emphysema) should consult a health professional before taking dextromethorphan. There is no good evidence that codeine or hydrocodone improve cough and common cold.
- expectorants, which loosen congestion.
- antihistamines, which have a drying effect on a runny nose but can make congestion worse. People with chronic lung disease, glaucoma, or difficulty in urination due to enlargement of the prostate should talk with a doctor before taking antihistamines.
- analgesics or pain medications such as acetaminophen, acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), and ibuprofen, which can be used to relieve fever and aches associated with the common cold. ASA should not be used by people 18 years of age or younger. People with asthma and peptic ulcers should not use ASA or ibuprofen unless recommended by their doctor.
Health Canada does not recommend that cough and cold medications be given to children under 6 years of age. There is little evidence that these medications are effective and there have been rare reports of serious side effects, especially when too much of the medication is given.
Many cold medications contain several medications. Do not use more than one cold medication unless recommended by your doctor or pharmacist. This will help you avoid receiving too much medication.
Taking a regular daily dose of 200 mg of vitamin C before you catch a cold may decrease the duration and severity of a cold if you get one, but taking high doses of vitamin C when cold symptoms start does not reduce the severity or duration of that cold. Similarly, the herb echinacea has also been promoted for both the prevention and treatment of colds, but there are few scientific studies to support this. There is some evidence to suggest that North American ginseng extract, when taken daily, may decrease the number, duration, and severity of colds for people who get at least 2 colds a year.
The best way to prevent the common cold is to wash your hands frequently with warm soap and water, especially after touching objects that may have the virus on them. When washing, remember to wash for at least 15 seconds and to wash the entire hand surface well. If water and soap are not available, you can also use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer – ensure you rub your hands until the product is dry.
You can also avoid close contact with people who have colds, especially for the first few days. Also, avoid rubbing your nose and eyes with your hands. Proper exercise, rest, and nutrition will help keep your body's defense system strong and able to fend off cold-causing viruses.
If you have a cold, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing and coughing, and then dispose of the tissue. If you don't have a tissue, coughing into your elbow is better than covering your mouth with your hands – this way, you won't be putting the virus on your hands where it can easily be spread by touching other surfaces.
All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2017. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/The-Common-Cold