The Common Cold

The common cold is an annoying illness which is caused by viruses. The most common symptoms are nasal drainage, stuffiness of the nose, diffuse pressure involving the ears, nose, and face, sore throat, cough, diminished hearing, and fatique. The disease lasts for 7-10 days. More persistent symptoms suggest that a secondary bacterial infection has occurred. 

The goal of treatment is to minimize uncomfortable symptoms and avoid secondary bacterial infection. My recommended "self-treatment" plan follows. If other symptoms develop or these symptoms persist for more than 10 days, then you should be evaluated in the office. You should also be evaluated if your symptoms start to improve and then worsen.

  1. AFRIN decongestant nasal spray - 2 sprays each nostril twice daily for 3 days ONLY.
  2. MUCINEX D. tablet - 1 tablet twice daily (plain mucinex if you suffer from hypertension, cardiac disease, thyroid disease, asthma, glaucoma, or prostate enlargement)
  3. Saline nasal irrigations twice daily.
  4. Steam Inhalation - 10 minutes twice daily (showering, "teapot", facial steamer, or steam room).
  5. Gargles for sore throat every 2-3 hours as needed. (Use 1 teaspoon or Sea salt or alternatively 1 Tylenol tablet in 4-6 ounces of warm water). Over-the-counter lozenges are acceptable as well.
  6. "Sucking candies or chewing gum" for "clogged ears." Equalizing pressure by pinching the nose and GENTLY blowing out against closed lips or swallowing is also helpful.
  7. Keep yourself well hydrated with fluids.
  8. Antibiotics should be avoided for the common cold.

Richard L. Nass, M.D.