common cold is a viral infection of your nose and throat
(upper respiratory tract). It’s usually harmless, although
it might not feel that way. Children younger than six are at
greatest risk of colds, but healthy adults can also expect to
have two or three colds annually.
people recover from a common cold in a week or 10 days.
Symptoms might last longer in people who smoke. If symptoms
don’t improve, see your doctor.
no cure for the common cold, but you don’t need to feel
miserable while you’re toughing it out. Drink plenty of
fluids. Try chicken soup. Rest as much as you can. Use saline
nasal spray to relieve stuffiness. Gargle with warm salt water
to soothe a sore throat. Turn on a humidifier. To prevent
spreading your cold to others, wash your hands often.
yourself as comfortable as possible when you have a cold, try:
Drinking plenty of fluids. Water, juice, clear broth or warm
lemon water are good choices. Avoid caffeine and alcohol,
which can dehydrate you.
Eating chicken soup. Generations of parents have spooned
chicken soup into their sick children. Researchers say that
chicken soup may be soothing because of its possible
anti-inflammatory and mucus-thinning properties.
Resting. If possible, stay home from work or school if you
have a fever or a bad cough or are drowsy after taking
medications. This will give you a chance to rest as well as
reduce the chances that you’ll infect others.
Adjusting your room’s temperature and humidity. Keep your
room warm, but not overheated. If the air is dry, a cool-mist
humidifier or vaporizer can moisten the air and help ease
congestion and coughing. Keep the humidifier clean to prevent
the growth of bacteria and molds.
Soothing your throat. A saltwater gargle — 1/4 to 1/2
teaspoon salt dissolved in a 4-ounce to 8-ounce glass of warm
water — can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
Using saline nasal drops. To help relieve nasal congestion,
try saline nasal drops. You can buy these drops
over-the-counter, and they can help relieve symptoms, even in
infants, gently suction the nostrils with a bulb syringe
(insert the bulb syringe about 1/4 to 1/2 inch, or about 6 to
12 millimeters) after applying saline drops.
Taking Vitamin C. In most cases, vitamin C supplements won’t
help prevent colds. However, taking vitamin C before the onset
of cold symptoms may shorten the duration of symptoms. Vitamin
C may provide benefit for people at high risk of colds due to
frequent exposure: for example, children who attend group
child care during the winter.
no vaccine for the common cold, but you can take common-sense
precautions to slow the spread of cold viruses:
your hands. Clean your hands thoroughly and often with soap
and water, and teach your children the importance of
hand-washing. If soap and water aren’t available, use an
alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Disinfect your stuff. Clean kitchen and bathroom countertops
with disinfectant, especially when someone in your family has
a cold. Wash children’s toys periodically.
tissues. Sneeze and cough into tissues. Discard used tissues
right away, then wash your hands carefully.
Teach children to sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow
when they don’t have a tissue. That way they cover their
mouths without using their hands.
share. Don’t share drinking glasses or utensils with other
family members. Use your own glass or disposable cups when you
or someone else is sick. Label the cup or glass with the name
of the person with the cold.
Steer clear of colds. Avoid close contact with anyone who has
Choose your child care center wisely. Look for a child care
setting with good hygiene practices and clear policies about
keeping sick children at home.
care of yourself. Eating well, getting exercise and enough
sleep, and managing stress might help you keep colds at bay.