Common Cold

COLDS are common in all ages year round. They are caused by viruses and cannot be cured by antibiotics. Occasionally, a cold may be complicated by a bacterial infection such as a sinus infection, an ear infection, or a more serious illness. Antibiotics are useful when a bacterial infection occurs. To lower your chances of catching a cold during cold and flu season, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and keep your hands away from your face.


  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion and/or runny nose
  • Swollen glands around the neck, or under the arms
  • A dry cough, or a cough with phlegm
  • Headache
  • Mild fever, usually less than 101o F, for a day or two
  • Muscle and/or joint aches
  • Poor appetite for several days
  • Mild stomach ache or cramps
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and sometimes vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitive eyes


Here are some things to do to help the symptoms of a cold:

  • FATIGUE: Get plenty of rest–it’s the most important treatment of all!
  • POOR APPETITE: Drink liquids (8-10 large glasses per day). These soothe the throat, loosen secretions and help relieve nasal congestion. Eat what appeals to you.
  • DRY COUGH, SENSITIVE EYES: Humidify the air with a cold steam vaporizer. Avoid fumes or irritants like cigarette smoke or house hold solvents.
  • FEVER, HEADACHE, MUSCLE ACHES: Don’t worry about a fever under 101o F (it may help fight the cold). For fevers over 101o F use: Ibuprofen (Addaprin, Advil, Motrin) Acetaminophen (Aminofen, Tylenol). MAKE CERTAIN OF THE CORRECT DOSE.
  • NASAL CONGESTION: An oral decongestant (Sudanyl, Sudafed, Pseudoephedrine) may decrease nasal congestion. Breathing moist air can soothe inflamed nasal passages.
  • SORE THROAT: A sore throat does not necessarily mean that strep throat or tonsillitis is present. Gargle with a solution of 1/2 tsp salt in a small glass of warm water every 2 to 4 hours to help reduce swelling, cleanse the throat and lessen pain. Lozenges or throat sprays are also useful.
  • DIARRHEA/VOMITING: These symptoms are best treated with a clear liquid diet (clear juices, broth, Gatorade, flat soda, popsicles, juice bars, sweetened tea).
  • COUGH: A mild cough usually does not mean there is a bronchitis or pneumonia. A cough syrup with expectorant (such as Robitussin DM) may help. Try not to take this during the day so the cough can help to clear your infection.



  • A cold lasting over 10 days
  • Fever over 103o F not responding to the above treatments
  • Any fever lasting more than 3 days
  • Cough producing large amounts of yellow or green phlegm
  • Abdominal pain without diarrhea, especially if located in the right lower side of the abdomen, and associated with vomiting and loss of appetite.
  • Very severe sore throat and difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting lasting more than 12 hours
  • Bloody mucous form nasal passages
  • Painful swelling of neck glands
  • Painful wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Severe headache
  • White patches on back of throat or tonsils, or an extremely red throat