The average adult contracts the common cold about 2 to 3 times per year. But is there really any cold treatment that can cure a head cold?
Keep reading to learn how to relieve those bothersome cold symptoms and what are some common cold medications.
Most people are familiar with the common cold. Some of the symptoms include:
- Congestion: both in your nose and head, leading to headaches and sinus pain.
- Sore throat: sometimes caused by swelling of your tonsils, post nasal drip, or both!
- Cough: often caused by irritation from post nasal drip.
- Fatigue: you’re body is running a marathon, figuratively speaking when you have a head cold. Your immune system is on overdrive!
- Insomnia: even though you’re tired, congestion or headache may be making it impossible to sleep and be a cause of sleep deprivation.
- Mucus: When it’s coming out of your nose it’s called rhinorrhea. When mucus is draining down the back of your throat, that’s called post nasal drip, and it is usually a cause of sore throat.
Gross but true.
Can You Cure a Cold?
Here’s the bad news that you wouldn’t want to hear now: once you’ve actually contracted a cold, you just have to wait for it to pass.
There are no best cold treatments available that can actually kill the cold virus, or stop the cold virus from spreading.
A typical head cold worsens for 2-4 days, plateaus for a day, then improves over another 3-4 days. Most common colds last for about 7-10 days.
Treatment for Common Cold Symptoms
Non-medications based treatments for common cold
Give these natural cold remedies a try, in addition to other typical over-the-counter cold treatments:
- Drink up: Stay hydrated to help reduce the viscosity of your mucus. This will allow your body to push out the dead cells and virus.
- Sip hot drinks: The steam from your hot tea will stimulate the cilia in your nares to move mucus, germs, and everything in between from your nasal passages into your facial tissue.
- Warmth: If you’re suffering from sinus pain, place some warmed compresses on your face. Allow the heat to open up your sinuses and drain out the mucus and fluid.
- Rest: Make time to go to bed early. If you skip one day of work or school early in your cold, you might be able to decrease the overall duration of your illness! You’re welcome.
- Prop your head up with an extra pillow: Or sleep sitting up in a comfortable chair to decrease congestion.
- Honey: has been shown in a randomized controlled trial to decrease nighttime cough in children.
Medications based treatment for common cold
Most of these products are found in combinations:
- Acetaminophen: May reduce muscle aches, fever, and headache. However, one study found that it can suppress the body’s ability to make antibodies, resulting in an increased duration of symptoms.
- Antihistamines: While these may relieve runny nose and sneezing, I find they work best when you are having difficulty sleeping.
Take a Diphenhydramine about 30 minutes prior to bed to help you breath better and sleep. Many of the “PM” products have some kind of antihistamine in them to help you sleep.
- Antitussives: The two main anti-cough medications are Dextromethorphan and Codeine.
If the product has “DM” in the title, it probably has Dextromethorphan in it. This product works great in the evenings if coughing from your common cold is keeping you up at night
Remember to follow the directions on the back of the bottle as some of the products are not appropriate for children under the age of 12.
- Codeine: A great antitussive agent, but because it is part of the narcotic family, you often have to get a prescription for this type of cough syrup.
Also, it has a propensity to cause significant constipation, so keep that in mind!
- Aromatic Vapor Therapies: Specifically containing menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oils. Use them as directed and never eat them or put them in the nasal passages.
- Decongestants: Two examples of cold treatment are Pseudoephedrine and Phenylephrine.
They decrease runny nose and congestion associated with your head cold.
They may have a stimulating effect so make sure to take them earlier in the day so they don’t keep you up at night.
Do not use these cold medications if you have high blood pressure.
- Zinc: Has been shown in one study to reduce the symptoms of cold, but large doses were taken 4-5 times a day for only minimal improvement.
Plus, zinc can upset your stomach and cause significant constipation.
If you plan to take zinc, start as soon as you feel symptoms. It stops the common cold virus from replicating, but only works at the beginning of the illness.
Medications NOT to Use
Antibiotics. These drugs only work on bacteria.
The common cold is caused by over 200 different types of viruses, not bacteria, so antibiotics are not common cold treatments.
Antibiotics come with a variety of side effects and can lead to things like super bugs and C. diff infections, not to mention all drug interactions with many common medications.
Can you cure a cold with medicines or regular over-the-counter cold treatments? No.
A cold can’t really be cured.
All you can do is try to relieve the cold symptoms, and try to speed up the recovery process with some good practices and natural remedies, or common cold medicines.
Then, just focus on resting. And wait till it goes away naturally. Sorry…but I am pretty sure you kinda had this opinion too and you were right.
In addition to the common cold treatments mentioned above, what have you tried to get rid of your cold symptoms?