How to Treat A Cold | The Common Cold

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Common Cold

How to Treat A ColdUpper Respiratory Tract Infections 

The common cold is the most common upper respiratory infection amongst people. Specifically, the rhinovirus causes it to occur. The nose and upper airways become infected and children are more prone to this. But, symptoms generally improve within a week or two. Unfortunately, immunization against the common cold is not possible. In fact, this is due to a variety of infections that can occur. Most upper respiratory tract infections (URTI’s), such as laryngitis and bronchitis, are from viruses. Laryngitis is the infection of the throat. Bronchitis is the infection of the airways and lungs. This article includes information on how to treat a cold.



A common symptom of a common cold can include a stuffy and blocked nose. Additionally, frequent sneezing paired with a runny nose are also symptoms. To add, runny nose may include clear mucus. Consequently, the mucus may turn thick and yellowish-green after 2-3 days. As a result, one may feel irritable and weak as the common cold may disrupt one’s sleep during the night. Further, one may also have a cough and or a mild fever. Most URTIs do not cause complications.

How to treat a common cold

Since the infection is due to a virus, there is no medicine for treating URTIs. The main line of treatment for an upper URTI is to ease the symptoms. Thus, the immune system gets stronger to clear the infection by itself.
Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen will reduce fever/feverish symptoms. They may also ease aches, pains, and headaches. Importantly, the dosage should not be more than 1000mg per day unless advised by your doctor. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Warm drinks with honey and lemon may help to ease a sore throat. Avoid cigarettes and alcohol to prevent aggravation of the symptoms.
Steam inhalation: Although not very much evidence exist, it works well for some. Be careful to avoid any scalding or burns due to steam. Instead, take a hot bath to relieve symptoms.
Vapor rubs: They are accesible from pharmacies. To add, they may help clear a stuffy nose and chest congestion. Sucking on sore throat lozenges also helps in easing a sore throat. Use Saline nasal drops (or a decongestant nasal spray) to clear a blocked nose.
Doctors advise those suffering to take cold and cough remedies during bedtime. To note, they may make you drowsy. Also, be careful before giving doses to children as they might not take well to medication.

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Antibiotics or not

The immune system of our body is capable of clearing the infection, however, antibiotics should be avoided in the initial stage of infection. Antibiotics do not kill viruses and are only good for bacterial infection. Hence, they do not hasten the recovery from a URTI. They might make your symptoms worse, as some people develop side-effects such as diarrhea, rashes or dizziness. Antibiotics should be prescribed by a doctor if there’s a presence of an underlying (chronic) lung disease. In the case of complications like pneumonia, antibiotics are helpful.

Natural cure– To boost immunity, one should increase the use of garlic and foods rich in Vitamin C. Foods may include: lemons, citrus fruits, pineapple, etc. Additionally, other helpful remedies include Zinc, Echinacea or Chinese herbs.

Prevention of URTIs

Prevention is in general difficult as many viruses are present in the air, which you cannot avoid. However, if you suffer from a URTI please ensure you do not spread it to other healthy individuals by,

  • Not getting too close to others – for example, kissing, hugging, etc.
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid sharing towels, flannels, and pillows.

Basically, common sense and good hygiene prevent the passing on of common cold viruses.

Physical Activity or Exercise is helpful

Recent research shows that people who are physically active and exercise regularly are less likely to get URTIs. This may be because exercise boosts the immune system which in turn helps fight infections.

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