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5 ways to give the ER the cold shoulder this winter
- Family Medicine
- Urgent Care
February 25, 2019 | Family Medicine
Americans get more than 1 billion colds each year according to the National Library of Medicine. No cure exists for the common cold, but you can take steps to ease your symptoms. From home remedies to over-the-counter drugs to simple self-care, here’s what you need to know about staying comfortable when you have a cold.
Colds are caused by a virus. Many people think an antibiotic can treat a cold, but these drugs are effective only for fighting illnesses caused by bacteria. Using an antibiotic for a cold can create antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the body, which may be dangerous if you need antibiotics in the future.
Why is the cold is so difficult to treat? The common cold is actually a number of different viruses. This means medication that can treat one type of cold won’t work for another. Researchers are working to find a common feature among cold viruses and target that feature with medication.
Most symptoms of a cold can be treated at home. Tips include:
#1 Drink plenty of fluids but stick to clear broth, water, juice and lemon water with honey. Alcohol or caffeine can cause dehydration. Warm liquids like chicken broth can also be soothing.
#2 Get plenty of rest. Sleeping helps your body fight the cold. Also, be sure to stay home from work and school to avoid spreading the virus to others.
#3 Add moisture to the air with a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier but use only clean water.
#4 If you have a sore throat, ease the pain with:
#6 For a runny or stuffy nose, try over-the-counter nasal drops and sprays. If your infant or toddler has a cold, you can clear the nasal passages with a bulb syringe.
#7 Fever and pain can be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Do not give acetaminophen to children younger than six months old.
Sometimes cold symptoms require medical attention. You should see a doctor if you have:
In addition to the symptoms above, children may have an earache or drainage from the ear. Some of these symptoms can be caused by a more serious illness, such as a sinus infection, asthma or pneumonia, so it’s crucial to see a doctor.
You can take steps to prevent a cold, such as:
“Cold remedies: What works, what doesn’t, what can’t hurt.“ Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/common-cold/in-depth/cold-remedies/art-20046403
“Are We Closer to Curing the Common Cold?” Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/are-we-closer-to-curing-the-common-cold
“When Should I See a Doctor for a Cold or Flu?” WebMD.
“Common Cold.” MedlinePlus.
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.