Symptomatic Treatment of Common Cold

At present there is no medication (or any herbal remedy) for treatment of common cold which can shorten duration of common cold or shorten duration of its symptoms. In another word, there is no medication available at present which can conclusively demonstrate to reduce duration of infection of common cold among all the people or among majority of people who take medication for relief from common cold. That is the reason the mainstay of management of common cold is still based on symptomatic relief. The symptomatic management also in most cases reduces the severity of symptoms, but may not be able to shorten duration of symptoms.ID-100331401

The common symptoms of common cold are fever, headache, body ache or muscle sore, sore throat, nasal congestion etc. and the symptomatic management of common cold is directed against these common symptoms. Use of medications to reduce severity of the above mentioned symptoms can reduce sufferings from common cold.

Common symptomatic medications used in common cold:

The commonly used medications to relieve symptoms of common cold are analgesics (pain relievers) and anti-pyretic (reduce body temperature in fever patients) medications such as acetamenophene (paracetamol), ibuprofen etc.

Runny nose is treated by use of antihistaminic (both first generation and second generation antihistaminic) drugs. The major drawback of antihistaminic medications is the drowsiness they cause. Anti-cholinergic drugs such as ipratropium can be used in reducing runny nose. Nasal congestion is treated by nasal decongestants such as pseudo-ephedrine. Saline nasal drops may also reduce nasal congestion.

Other general and symptomatic measures which should be taken include, adequate rest, drinking plenty of liquid (such as plain water, fruit juice etc.) to maintain hydration which may be a problem if patient have fever. Warm salt water gargling may help reduce symptoms of common cold and is recommended.

Use of cough medication in common cold is debatable. Although there is no evidence that use of cough medication has any extra benefit over use of only analgesics, some medical professionals use cough medication for management of common cold. Among children cough medications should not be used and not recommended de to lack of any benefit and due to potential harm they may cause.


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