Cough and Cold

The common cold can be caused by any of more than 200 viruses. These viruses attack and multiply in cells that line the nose and throat.

Symptoms

  • scratchy or sore throat
  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • tenderness around the eyes
  • stuffy nose
  • watery eyes
  • full feeling in the ears
  • cough: dry or with white or clear mucus
  • general tired feeling
  • fever below 101 degrees
  • mild headache
  • muscle and body aches

Methods of Spreading

The common cold can be caused by any of more than 200 viruses. These viruses attack and multiply in cells that line the nose and throat. Colds are most commonly spread hand to hand. For example, if you shake, touch or hold the hand of an infected person and then touch your eyes or nose, you are likely to infect yourself with the virus. You can also catch a cold if you touch your eyes or nose after touching a hard surface--such as a telephone or doorknob--shortly after an infected person touched it. Just because you are exposed does not necessarily mean you will become infected. It depends on your immune system and history of previous exposure to the virus.

Prevention

  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
  • Use disposable tissues.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Avoid prolonged contact with people who have colds.
  • Keep your stress level down.
  • Keep your room humidity at moderate to high.

General Treatment Measures

Rest more and avoid your usual exercise regimen until the cold has resolved. Drink at least eight ounces of liquids every two hours to help soothe the throat and relieve nasal congestion If a fever is present, more fluids are needed to replenish those lost due to the elevation in body temperature. Refrain from smoking. Smoking irritates inflamed nasal passages and paralyzes the cilia which clear mucus from the lungs. Do not take "left over," or old, or your roommate’s antibiotics. Do not drink alcohol because it decreases your resistance and may interact with medications.

Eat a well-balanced diet which includes fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Non-Prescription Medications

The following products may be purchased at any pharmacy. It is safe to take any of the mentioned medications in combination with each other to manage the symptoms listed.

Cautionary Advice

You can use multi-symptom cold remedies but they are expensive and contain ingredients you may not need and ingredient doses which may be too low to be effective. Antihistamines are not recommended as they may make you drowsy and have an undesirable drying effect on mucus membranes.

If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, glaucoma, heart disease, thyroid disease, any other chronic medical problem, or suspect you are pregnant, consult your physician before taking any medication. Carefully follow any instructions that accompany your medication.

Alternative Therapies

When do you need to see a Nurse or Physician?

Call if you have tried the self-care measures discussed above and your symptoms persist or worsen. Specific warning signs and symptoms which may indicate the need for more prompt evaluation include:

  • Temperature greater than 101 degrees for more than two days
  • Marked pain in the ears, face or chest
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Cough producing dark, colored sputum
  • Persistently green mucus from the nose
  • Persistent and severe sore throat, particularly if you are unable to swallow or open your mouth
  • Severe headache or stiff neck
  • Skin rashes or bruising of your skin
  • Cold symptoms that last beyond 10-14 days without improvement