The Common Cold & How To Treat It

What causes the common cold?

The common cold is caused by a virus (rhinoviruses) that affects your upper respiratory tract. Symptoms usually start within 2 to 3 days of being exposed to the virus and tend to resolve within 7 to 10 days. The virus usually enters the body through the mouth or nasal passages and can be easily transmitted to others through touch or respiratory droplets from sneezing or coughing. Antibiotics cannot be used to treat a cold as it is caused by a virus and not bacteria.

Symptoms:

  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • High temperature
  • Loss of smell or taste

How to manage the symptoms of the common cold.

There are many medicines available to purchase over the counter that can help to manage the symptoms of a cold. Certain home remedies have also proven successful in managing symptoms.

Medication:

  • Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can help relieve a headache and reduce fever
  • Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine spray or tablets can help to relieve a blocked nose by opening up the nasal passages
  • Cough mixtures can help to relieve a chesty cough (e.g. Guaifenesin) or a dry irritating cough (e.g. Dextromethorphan)

Home Remedies:

  • Gargling saltwater and drinking warm water with lemon and honey can help to soothe a sore throat
  • Staying hydrated is important. Drink plenty of water and try to avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks that can cause dehydration
  • Running a hot steamy shower can help to reduce congestion
  • Make sure you rest to allow your body’s immune system to fight off the virus
  • Sleeping with an extra pillow under your head can help to drain mucus from your sinuses

Written by Yasmine Bakr MPharm (Pharmacist)
GPhC Reg: 2220897

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