Currently there is not a cure for the common cold. However, there are medications available to help lesson the symptoms. In addition to the medications listed below, be sure to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and use a humidifier.
Pseudoephedrine- Decongestant that works by shrinking blood vessels that stop up your nose. If you have high blood pressure do not take pseudoephedrine as it can increase your blood pressure.
-Examples: SudoGest, Sudafed 12 Hour, Sudafed 24 Hour, Wal-Phed D, Suphedrin, Sudafed, 12 Hour Decongestant, Sudogest 12-hour, Wal-phed 12 hour, Sinus 12 Hour
Dextromethorphan- A cough suppressant. Remember that coughing is your bodies natural way of getting gunk out of your lungs, so a little coughing can be good for you. Caution in elderly as these can cause drowsiness and interact with other medications.
-Examples: Robafen Cough, Cough DM ER, Wal-Tussin Max Strength Cough, Robitussin Coughgel, Scot-Tussin Diabetes CF, Tussin Cough (DM only), Tussin Long-Acting
Guaifenesin- Expectorant that helps thin mucous so it can drain more easily down the back of you throat. The best, most natural (and cheap) expectorant is water, which does the same thing. Caution in elderly as these can cause drowsiness and interact with other medications.
-Examples: Geri-Tussin, Siltussin SA, Mucinex, Diabetic Tussin EX, Mucus Relief ER, Tussin Expectorant, Refenesen, Tussin Mucus-Chest Congestion, Allfen, Tab Tussin
Vitamin C- There is no concrete evidence that vitamin C helps with symptoms/ severity/ or length of colds. Anything over the daily recommended doses (90 milligrams a day for men and 75 for women) will be eliminated in urine.
Acetaminophen- Pain reliever that can helps with fevers, muscle aches and soreness, headache. Do not use if you have or have ever had problems with your liver or liver function.
Fluticasone nasal spray- A nasal spray with steroid that helps reduce inflammation in the nose. It can help with symptoms of stuffy nose, itchy eyes, sneezing, and running nose.
-Examples: Flonase, Ticanase, ArmonAir RespiClick, Ticaspray, 24 Hour Allergy Relief, Aller-Flo
Netti Pot- A container specially designed to wash out the nasal cavity. It can help with symptoms of nasal congestion, sinus problems, or colds. ONLY PURE BOTTLED WATER.
Anti-Histamines- Can help if you have allergy symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, itchy throat. Caution in elderly as these can cause drowsiness and interact with other medications.
-Examples: Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin, Chlorpheniramine
When to see your doctor: If you are on an immunosuppressant (taking medications like Humira, Remicade, etc.) or are immunosuppressed, if you have fevers over 101.1, if symptoms last longer than 10 days or are getting worse rather than better, if you are pregnant, if you have COPD / lung disease or insulin dependent diabetes, or if you develop shortness of breath.
By Dr. Katherine Scrivner, Internal Medicine