The common cold is never fun—it comes out of nowhere, it makes you feel yucky for days, and there isn’t much you can do about it. Since there is no official common cold treatment, the main recommendation is to simply relieve symptoms as effectively as possible and do whatever it takes to start healing and feeling better. If you suspect you have something more than a cold, your doctor may run tests to rule out other illnesses.

If you experience cold symptoms and go to the doctor for common cold treatment, he or she will likely present you with at-home and over-the-counter remedies to help allay your symptoms. Some of those may include the following:

  • Non-Narcotic Pain Relievers – Particularly if you have a bad headache or a high fever, pain relievers can help you feel better and get some much-needed rest. Talk to your doctor about which pain reliever is best for your particular symptoms and your age and health status.
  • Nasal Sprays and/or Decongestants – Make sure whatever you take won’t have adverse effects with anything else you’re taking, and be sure you don’t use nasal sprays or decongestants any longer than the recommended amount of time.
  • Cough Syrups and/or Throat Lozenges – While these aren’t recommended for young children, they can be beneficial in helping to relieve a cough in order to sleep.
  • Fluids and/or Soups – Staying hydrated is key to healing from a cold, and hot and cold fluids will make your throat feel better when it’s sore.
  • Eating Well – Sugar feeds disease, so if you’re consuming nothing but junk food when you’re sick, you’re more likely to stay sick longer. Instead, choose foods that are high in antioxidants and high in protein to help your body fight the cold and heal itself more effectively.
  • Take Vitamins – Taking vitamins can help you to get and stay healthy. Be sure to check with your doctor before taking vitamins.
  • Rest – It cannot be said enough that rest is key to getting over a cold. Even if you still have to attend to work, school, or family responsibilities, be sure to get to bed early and rest as often as you can until you feel better.

Knowing about common cold treatment will help whenever you do end up with a cold, but preventing colds is also a vital step in maintaining health. Washing hands regularly, avoiding infected areas or people, disinfecting your belongings, eating well, and exercising regularly will all help you to stay healthy and avoid colds. Additionally, being educated is key in remaining healthy. Here are a few frequently asked questions that many people have about the common cold.

What causes the common cold?

The common cold is caused by a virus that affects your upper respiratory tract, or your nose and throat. The most common culprit of a cold is rhinoviruses, which typically affect people most during the fall and spring.

Is there a cure for the common cold?

There is not currently a cure for the common cold. While there have been recent breakthroughs in creating a medicine to target the cold virus, an actual cure probably isn’t in the near future. Since the common cold can be caused by many different viruses, it is extremely difficult to create a cure that pinpoints the origin of the cold.

Can I take medicine for the common cold?

Unfortunately, antibiotics and antiviral drugs won’t work for the common cold. The only medicines that may be beneficial are pain relievers, cough syrups, or decongestants.

How long does the common cold last?

Typically, a cold will last about 7-10 days. If a person has additional health concerns, such as asthma, it may last longer. Additionally, smoking or having an otherwise weak immune system can result in more frequent, more severe, and longer lasting colds.

Common Cold Symptoms

While every cold varies and each person’s symptoms vary, there are a handful of common cold symptoms that seem to always be present:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Low Fever

If any of all of these common cold symptoms are present, the individual likely has a cold and should try to take it easy for a few days. Since there is no cure or medication aimed at treating common cold symptoms, most people don’t need to visit a doctor when they have a cold. However, if a fever persists or gets exceptionally high, wheezing or shortness of breath occur, or any severe symptoms are present, a visit to the doctor is suggested.

Oftentimes, people with a severe cold with think they have the flu. But when comparing the symptoms of the common cold vs the flu, cold symptoms are minor and more short-lived than flu symptoms. Generally, a person with a cold can still function throughout the day and complete necessary tasks, whereas a person with the flu may be in bed for a few days. If you believe that you are experiencing something more severe than just common cold symptoms, it is best to visit your doctor and get confirmation one way or another.

Be sure to visit one of our NCHS locations if you suspect you have a cold or need more information.