Common Cold

Time to read 2 min


The common cold is a viral infection of your upper respiratory tract — your nose and throat. A common cold is usually harmless, although it may not feel that way at the time.

What makes a cold different from other viral infections is that you generally won’t have a high fever. You’re also unlikely to experience significant fatigue from a common cold.


Because anyone of more than 100 viruses can cause a cold, signs and symptoms can vary greatly and may include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy or sore throat
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Slight body aches or a mild headache
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Low-grade fever
  • Mild fatigue


There’s no cure for the common cold. The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms as much as possible. The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms as much as possible.

  • Medications

Antibiotics are of no use against cold viruses, and over-the-counter cold preparations generally won’t make a cold go away any sooner. Products that may help include:

  1. Pain relievers. An over-the-counter pain reliever can help relieve fever, sore throat, and headache. All pain relievers can have potentially serious side effects in infants and children, so it’s best to check with your doctor before administering any medication to your child.
  2. Decongestant nasal sprays. They may help relieve congestion, but adults shouldn’t use them for more than a few days and children shouldn’t use them at all. Prolonged use can cause rebound inflammation of the mucous membranes, which can worsen congestion.
  3. Cough syrups. Cough and cold medicines shouldn’t be given to children younger than age 2 because of potential side effects, including rapid heart rate and convulsions. Among children older than age 2, the safety of cough and cold medicines is under study. Remember these medicines won’t make a cold go away any sooner.

  • Self-care

Use these strategies to help ease symptoms:

  1. Drink lots of fluids. Water, juice, clear broth, or warm lemon water are good choices. They help replace fluids lost during mucus production or fever. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which are dehydrating.
  2. Try chicken soup. It temporarily speeds the movement of mucus through the nose, helping relieve congestion and limiting the time viruses are in contact with the nasal lining.
  3. Soothe your throat. A saltwater gargle — a teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water — can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
  4. Use saline nasal drops. To help relieve nasal congestion, try saline nasal drops. You can buy them over-the-counter, and they’re effective, safe and nonirritating, even for children.
  5. Get some rest. Rest helps your body fight illness.
  6. Vitamin C. Maintain your vitamin levels to fight off infections.

Excerpt From: The Mayo Clinic. “Mayo Clinic A to Z Health Guide”. 

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