Self Care for Colds
Symptoms of colds often include:
- Sore throat
- Mild fever
- Stuffy nose and ears
- Thick, yellowish mucus
- Sinus pressure around eyes, forehead, and cheek bones
- Cough throughout entire illness
What Causes Colds?
Colds are caused by different strains of viruses. Viruses are different from bacteria, and antibiotics do not kill viruses. Your body’s immune system usually clears up an infection from a cold virus within seven to fourteen days. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t catch a cold from a draft of cold air, a wet head, or a drop in temperature.
Methods of Prevention
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
- Keep your hands away from your face.
- Avoid crowded places when possible, especially in the winter
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of tissue in appropriate receptacle.
- Clean and disinfect frequently used surface areas such as telephones and doorknobs.
- Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of Vitamin C.
- Over-the-Counter Methods of Self Treatment
|Drug Class||Generic Name||Sample Brand Names||Action||Possible Side Effects||For more information, check out�|
|Antihistamines||DiphenhydramineLoratadineChlor Maleate||BenadrylClaritinChlor-Trimeton||Dries up a runny nose and relieves sneezing.||Drowsiness, makes mucus thicker.||www.benadryl.com|
|Decongestants||PseudoephedrinePhenylephrine||SudafedContac-D||Relieves sinus pressure and stuffy nose and ears.||Insomnia, increased blood pressure.||www.sudafed.com|
|Helpful analgesic for relieving sore throat, fever, and headache.||Increased asthma symptoms, gastric irritation, increased bleeding.||www.tylenol.comwww.motrin.comwww.bayer.com|
|Throat Lozenges||Zinc Gluconate Glycine||Cold-Eeze||Reduce duration & severity of the common cold||Stomach irritation||www.coldeeze.com|
|Cough Suppressants||Dextromethorphan & Guaifenesin||Robitussin-DM||Relieves cough, expectorant||www.robitussin.com|
|Nasal Strips||Contain no drugs.||Breathe Right Strips||May help open congested nasal passages.||Skin irritation from adhesive.||www.nasalstrips.com|
Self-treatment for Colds Besides Medications
- Vitamin C and Zinc may help shorten the duration and severity of a cold.
- Use a cool mist humidifier to increase air moisture.
- Complete bed rest isn’t necessary, but get six to eight hours of sleep, rest often and avoid overly vigorous activity
- Drink lots of fluids, especially water and fruit juices.
- Gargle with warm salt water (1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt per cup of water).
- Avoid smoke and irritants.
- Breathe steam from hot beverages or take a hot shower to decrease nasal stuffiness.
See your health care provider…
- If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty breathing
- If you have a temperature over 101 F for longer than 24-48 hours
- If you have a persistently sore and/or red throat
- If you have a severe headache with fever
- If you have no improvement in symptoms after seven days
- If you have pain in one or both ears
- If you have enlarged, tender glands in the neck
Helpful Web Resources
Visit the Common Cold at www.commoncold.org/index.htm to learn more about colds, prevention, treatment and much more. Visit www.commoncold.org/special1.htm to learn more about common myths about the cold virus.
Read a fact sheet on the common cold from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/cold.htm
For more information on zinc lozenges as a treatment for the common cold, visit www.coldcure.com/