Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Over-the-counter cold remedies may help ease your symptoms. These won’t actually shorten the length of a cold, but can help you feel better.
NOTE: Medical experts have recommended against using cough and cold drugs in children under age 6. Talk to your doctor before your child takes any type of over-the-counter cough medicine, even if it is labeled for children. These medicines likely will not work for children, and they may have serious side effects.
Antibiotics should not be used to treat a common cold. They will not help and may make the situation worse. Thick yellow or green nasal discharge is not a reason for antibiotics, unless it doesn’t get better within 10 to 14 days. (In this case, it may be a sinus infection called sinusitis.)
New antiviral drugs can make runny noses completely clear up a day sooner than usual (and begin to ease the symptoms within a day). It is unclear whether the benefits of these drugs outweigh the risks.
Chicken soup has been used for treating common colds at least since the 12th century. It may really help. The heat, fluid, and salt may help you fight the infection.
Alternative treatments that have also been used include:
- Vitamin C
The symptoms usually go away in 7 to 10 days.
- Ear infection
- Worsening of asthma
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Try home care measures first. Call your health care provider if:
- Breathing difficulty develops
- Symptoms worsen or do not improve after 7 to 10 days
Common cold : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Common cold : Symptoms & Signs
Common cold : Treatment
Review Date : 1/10/2010
Reviewed By : Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.