Common Cold Symptoms and Facts about Common Cold Treatments

By: Patsy Hamilton / Article City
| Published 10/04/2006


Choosing an effective common cold treatment may be frustrating. Common cold symptoms can vary and finding a product that works to relieve all of your symptoms may be difficult, if not impossible. Busy adults often look for common cold treatments that will relieve their symptoms without making them drowsy, but according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) bed rest is good for you, when you have a cold. In fact, adequate rest is important at all times for maintaining a healthy immune system and general good health.

In addition to bed rest, the NIAID recommends drinking plenty of fluids and gargling with warm salt water as common cold treatments. Scratchy or sore throat may be relieved by using sprays or throat lozenges. Petroleum jelly may relieve a raw nose and using soft tissues or those treated with lotions may be more soothing than regular paper tissue. Another common cold treatment, which the NIAID recommends is aspirin or acetaminophen to relieve headache, fever or body aches. However, research indicates that aspirin use for common cold treatment increases the amount of virus in nasal secretions, meaning that transmitting the virus to others is more likely.

Children under the age of 18, should not be given aspirin containing products, due to the risk of Reye?s syndrome, a disease that affects all of the organs of the body, can have long-lasting consequences and can lead to brain damage or death in some children. It is advisable to check the ingredients in any common cold treatments before giving them to children. Many antihistamines and decongestants contain small amounts of aspirin or other pain relievers, as do other multi-symptom common cold treatments.

The common cold is a viral infection of the lining of the nose. Thus, typical common cold symptoms include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose and difficulty breathing through the nose. Coughing usually results from irritation of the throat when nasal fluids drain into the throat. Some of the viruses that cause common cold symptoms may lead to upper respiratory or sinus infections. Blowing the nose forces mucus and bacteria into the sinuses and can lead to bacterial infection of the sinuses.

A commonly held myth about common cold treatment is that allowing the nose to run and sneezing to continue will reduce the duration of the infection. This non-treatment increases the likelihood that sinus and upper respiratory bacterial infections will occur. Plus, sneezing, coughing and nasal secretions transmit the viruses to other people. Common cold treatments not only relieve symptoms, but prevent the spread of the virus and reduce the chance of developing complications.

Other myths about common cold treatments include "feeding a cold" and inhaling steam to relieve symptoms. While good nutrition is important, there is no evidence that increasing food intake during a cold will relieve symptoms or reduce recovery time. While inhaling steam may temporarily relieve congestion, health experts do not believe that this is an effective common cold treatment.

Common cold symptoms may include headache and low fever. The headache results from irritation of the sinuses and stuffy nose. The fever is the body?s reaction to the viral infection. Although doctor visits for common cold treatment are generally unnecessary, colds are one of the leading causes of doctor visits annually. Over the counter products, such as antihistamines, decongestants, cough suppressants and analgesics are usually the only things that a doctor will recommend as common cold treatments. Antibiotics will have no effect on common cold symptoms and will only be prescribed if complications, such as bacterial infection of the ears or sinuses are present.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 million school days are lost each year in the United States due to common cold symptoms. And, often when the kids catch a cold, parents become affected, too, leading to lost days of work, not to mention a week or more of miserable days spent suffering. Since there is no cure for the common cold and the most effective common cold treatments can only reduce symptoms or length of duration, focus must be on prevention.

Recent studies support the belief that a poorly functioning immune system increases the likelihood of developing common cold symptoms. People can be exposed to the viruses and never develop symptoms. Clinical research, in which common cold viruses were sprayed directly in the nose, showed that some people never developed symptoms, even though the virus was present. Asthmatics, who have more colds than the average person, produce a lower than average number of anti-viral proteins. Thus, the use of dietary supplements that support healthy immune system function may reduce the likelihood of developing common cold symptoms.