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Home > Illness & Symptoms > Nose > Common Cold & Flu > Treatments for consumers description

Common Cold & Flu- Treatments

In most cases, the common cold goes away on its own in under two weeks. Though there is no medication that can cure the common cold and make the cold go away faster, there are nonprescription products and home remedies that may help you relieve symptoms associated with the cold.

Home remedies include:

- Using a humidifier for stuffy nose.
Gargling with salt water for sore throat.
- Suck on hard candies or lozenges for sore throat.
- Getting plenty of rest to help your immune system work properly. 
- Drinking plenty of liquids and keep your body stay hydrated (for example, water, hot tea with lemon, and chicken broth). Stay away from alcohol and caffeinated beverages. 

Natural remedies include: 

- Echinacea taken within the first 24 hours reduces symptoms. 
- Zinc supplements taken within the first 24 hours reduces symptoms. 

Non-prescription products include:

Decongestants for sinus and nasal congestion to be taken by mouth or sprayed into the nose. 

--Look for products that contain pseudoephrine, phenylephrine, ephedrine, oxymetazoline, and xylometazoline. Decongestants may cause an increase in blood pressure, so please speak with your doctor or a pharmacist before using this type of product.

--Examples of products that can be taken by mouth include Sudafed, Sudafed PE, Advil Cold and Sinus, and Aleve D Sinus & Cold.

--Examples of products that can be sprayed into the nose include: Afrin Original Nasal Spray, Mucinex Nasal Spray, and Vicks Vapor Inhaler. Do not use these nasal products for more than a few days because it can cause your nose to become even more congested. 

Antihistamines can be taken orally for runny nose and sneezing.

--Please avoid activities that require alertness (such as driving or operating heavy machinery) because these products can cause drowsiness.

--Examples include: Chlor-Trimeton, Benadryl, Tylenol Severe Allergy, Zyrtec, and Claritin

Pain relievers can be taken orally for sore throats, fever, headaches, and body aches. 

--Products include Aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and naproxen. Do not give Aspirin to children because it can cause a rare but deadly condition. 

--Oral anesthetics such as benzocaine and dyclonine in the form of lozenges, dissolving strips, mouthwashes, and throat sprays may be useful in treating minor pain associated with sore throat. 

However, you need to go in to see your doctor as soon as possible if you have: 

- A fever >101.5 F
- Chest pain 
- Shortness of breath (breathing becomes difficult) 
- Asthma 
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Symptoms that get worse or do not improve after 7 days of treatment

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