Treating a Common Cold at Home

Though not uncommon, it can be frustrating and inconvenient to deal with the symptoms of a common cold. A sore throat and running nose are among the first signs that you have contracted a cold and these symptoms could be followed by coughing, sneezing and a fever. The symptoms of colds will usually last between seven and ten days and the severities vary from person to person, depending on the types of viruses that have been contracted and individual’s particular susceptibility. Nonetheless, it is still important to manage the signs of a common cold when they emerge and to protect yourself and your family from contracting viruses in the first place. The following tips and suggestions can be easily applied at home and can make a big difference when it comes to containing the impact of illnesses both in the short and long term.

Prevention of the Common Cold

The viruses that cause colds tend to spread easily from infected individuals to others around them, either through close personal contact or through the air. Contact with stool or respiratory secretions of the infected person, including mucus, can also cause the virus to spread. It may seem that this kind of contact is unlikely to transpire, but in fact, it is incredibly easy. For example, the act of touching a doorknob that has also been touched by an infected person or shaking hands with infected individuals and then touching your own mouth, eyes or nose can be sufficient enough to spread the illness to your body. With this in mind, it is of utmost importance to wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap at every opportunity and to avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes with unwashed hands. Sufficient hand washing with soap should last for 20 seconds. When soap and water are not accessible, use a hand sanitizer instead and wash your hands properly at the next available opportunity. It is particularly important to instill these routines in children because their risks of infection are much higher.

Containing the Common Cold

Due to how easily common colds can spread, it is key to contain the viruses as much as possible if you or your loved ones become infected. You can prevent the spread among colleagues, friends and family by dutifully attempting to contain the cold. Staying at home for the duration of the sickness is one way to contain the illness. When you do return to your usual routines, avoid close contact with others by refraining from kissing, shaking hands or hugging those who do not have the virus. If you feel the urge to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue and immediately dispose of it. If a tissue is not available, you should use a shirt sleeve to ensure your mouth and nose are totally covered. Coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose should be followed by thorough hand washing, as described above. Another worthwhile precaution is to disinfect any surfaces you frequently touch, including common objects like doorknobs and children’s toys.

Alleviating Symptoms of the Common Cold

While there is no cure for the common cold, there are ways that you can help to speed up the process of recovery and reduce the impact of certain uncomfortable symptoms. First, prioritize getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids. Certain over-the-counter treatments can also be obtained to assist. These medicines will not enable you to eliminate the symptoms of a cold entirely, but they can make you more comfortable while your body deals with the infection. Over-the-counter medicines that may help to reduce fever and lessen muscle aches include ibuprofen, also known as Advil or Motrin, and Acetaminophen or Tylenol. Aspirin should not be taken as a treatment for a common cold. You should speak to your physician before giving any nonprescription medicines to children because some contain ingredients that are not recommended for children under a certain age.

Some people favor home remedies when dealing with common colds. Although there is no proof that such remedies help symptoms demonstrably, they can alleviate suffering and are safe to use on most people. Popular home remedies include ingesting vitamin C, Echinacea, zinc supplements and herbal teas, such as ginger or lemon with honey.

If the virus is persistent, you may be tempted to request antibiotics from your physician. However, keep in mind that antibiotics will not help you to recover from a common cold any faster. In fact, taking antibiotics to combat a common cold can make it more difficult for your body to fight similar bacterial infections in the future, offering the opposite of the desired effect.

When to See a Physician About a Common Cold

Although rest, rehabilitation and seclusion are key to recovery, you should also be on the lookout for any symptoms that suggest the virus is something worse than what initially appeared to be a common cold. For instance, if you or your child have a temperature that is higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, if symptoms persist for more than ten days or if there appears to be something unusual or severe about the symptoms endured, it is time to visit your physician. If you have a child who is three months old or less and experiencing a fever, you should contact your doctor immediately. He or she will determine whether you or your child has a cold and can recommend treatment accordingly.