How do I cure a Cold or Flu?
There is no cure for the common cold. Symptoms may last from 7-14 days, and then they will subside by themselves.
The treatment available for a cold is to treat a person’s symptoms. There is no cure, only symptomatic relief.
These self-care methods are for a mild to moderate sore throat lasting one to two days, with no fever present.
- Soothe a sore throat with ice chips, sore throat spray, or lozenges (do not give lozenges to young children).
- Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever (read about what is safe to give your child).
- Gargle with warm salt water every 2-3 hours as needed. Put half a teaspoon of salt into eight ounces of water.
Sore throat should last for 1 to 2 days with no fever present.
What is the difference between a
sore throat and strep throat?
Sore throat: (Nonbacterial/Viral infection):
Often first sign of a cold and will go away after the first day or two. Cold symptoms such as a runny nose and congestion may follow the sore throat.
Strep Throat: (Bacterial infection):
The sore throat is often more severe and persists. Strep throat symptoms are usually more sever than symptoms and may include the following:
- Sudden sore throat
- Loss of appetite
- Painful swallowing
- Red tonsils with white spots
Drink warm liquids to soothe an irritated throat.
Suck on hard candies or cough lozenges.
These Over-The-Counter medications may be indicated under the following conditions:
Dry cough not bringing up phlegm:
- OTC medications may be used if the cough becomes annoying, exhaust you and/or disrupts sleep.
- FDA approved cough suppressants include codeine and dextromethorphan which work by sedative effects to suppress the cough.
- Drowsiness is a common side effect of these medications.
Cough with phlegm:
- Expectorants may be used to loosen or dilute mucus so that it can be coughed out.
Not all medicines are the same.
The role of cough medicines is to ease symptoms while your body heals.
As a glance at the drugstore shelves will show you, there are many, many brands of OTC cough medicines. But there are only three basic types:
Expectorants help thin mucus, making it easier to cough up. The ingredient guaifenesin is the only expectorant in the U.S., so look for it on the label if you're looking for an expectorant.
Suppressants help reduce the number of times you cough. The active ingredient listed is usually dextromethorphan (DM). Other cough suppressants include camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol.
Combination cough products have more than one active ingredient. They have both guaifenesin and dextromethorphan. Cough medicines may also contain ingredients to help coat and soothe the throat.
Combination products may have medicines to ease other symptoms, including decongestants for stuffy nose, antihistamines for allergies or a runny nose, or painkillers.
Congestion causes sinus and nasal stuffiness and may cause a pressure sensation in the ears.
Oral decongestants may be used to relieve congestion.
- Sudafed Sinus
- Tylenol Sinus
- Triaminic- Expectorant
Topical decongestants or nasal sprays should be used with caution since they tend to cause “rebound” effects, making symptoms worse after 2 or 3 days. If nasal sprays are used, they should only be used for 1 or 2 days. Examples: Afrin
Antihistamines are recommended for use with allergies, but have not been proven to reduce the symptoms associated with a common cold. Allergies have some symptoms similar to those of a cold; however, the mechanism which produces allergies is different from that which produces colds. The same medication may not be effective for both. Antihistamines also cause drowsiness as a side effect, and should be used with caution. It is recommended that antihistamines be used only at bedtime, or by those who are bedridden.
Use a decongestant or saline nasal spray to help relieve nasal symptoms (read about what is safe to give your child).
What should I do?
BEST TREATMENT -- wait and watch. Runny nose, cough and symptoms like fever, headache and muscle aches may be bothersome, but antibiotics will NOT make them go away any faster. Some people find that using a cool mist vaporizer or using salt water (saline) nose drops may help them feel better.
Are antibiotics needed?
Antibiotics are only needed if you are diagnosed by a healthcare provider with sinusitis. Antibiotics are NOT needed to treat a runny nose.
Why NOT antibiotics now?
Taking antibiotics when they are not needed can be harmful. Each time people take antibiotics, they are more likely to carry resistant germs in their nose and throat. Since a runny nose almost always gets better on its own, it is better to wait and take antibiotics only when they are needed.
Put a warm compress over the nose and forehead to help relieve sinus pressure.
Use a decongestant or saline nasal spray.
Breathe in steam from a bowl of hot water or shower.
Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever (read about what is safe to give your child).