Treatment and Prevention of Common Cold

There is a saying in regards to common cold: “if you use medications for treatment of common cold, you will get well in one week and if you do not use medication, you will get well in seven days”. This should make the matter clear in regards to treatment of common cold. Currently there is no medication which can cure common cold. The approach to management of common cold is symptomatic. Common cold is caused mainly by viruses and there is no effective antivirus antibiotic available at present against common cold causing viruses. The treatment/management of common cold is therefore essentially symptomatic such as gargling with warm salt water, drinking plenty of water/liquid (to maintain hydration), adequate rest and other symptomatic measures depending on symptoms.

Treatment/management of common cold can be symptomatic (which include use of pain relievers, nasal decongestants and use of cough medications), use of antibiotics and CAM (complimentary and alternative medicine).

Analgesic and antipyretics:

Analgesic and antipyretics (such as ibuprofen, acetamenophene or paracetamol) are used for fever, headache, sore throat etc. Analgesic and antipyretics should not be used in children more than required.

Nasal decongestants:

For symptomatic relief (runny nose and nasal congestion are common symptoms of common cold) of runny nose nasal decongestants (pseudoephedrine, oxymetazoline, xylometazoline etc.) spray or drops are used. Antihistamines can also reduce runny nose. Nasal decongestants should not be used more than few days (not more than 10 days), because of side effects, such as atrophy of nasal mucosa, and cilia.

Cough medications:

The effectiveness of cough medications is doubtful. Cough medications can not reduce the duration of illness and also may not provide adequate symptomatic relief, besides its side effects. Cough medications available over the counter should not be used in children below 2 years of age.

Use of antibiotics:

Antiviral antibiotics are of no use against common cold causing viruses in treatment of common cold. Many doctors’ use antibacterial antibiotics for treatment of common cold may be in the hope of treating/preventing superimposed bacterial infection of respiratory tract (nose, throat etc.) which may occur in case of common cold. Antibiotics may also be used due to expectation of patients from their physician.

Prevention of common cold:

No vaccine against common cold has yet been developed, because of presence of large (considered to be more than 300 different viruses) number of different viruses that can cause common cold. But following some simple measures can reduce/slow the risk of spread of common cold:

  • Wash hands thoroughly after coming in contact with a person with common cold. Teach importance of hand washing with ordinary toilet soap and tape water to your children.
  • Use tissue while sneezing/coughing and discard it after use.
  • Do not share your towel or hanky with others. Do not share utensils and glasses.
  • Do not remain in close proximity of any person with cold for long time.
  • Do not allow your children to share toys with other children, especially when they are suffering from common cold.

Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Loading...