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Before You Treat Your Cold


Updated August 24, 2013

If you have a cold, you are probably feeling pretty miserable. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to treat your cold. This guide can help you decide which cold treatment may be right for you. As always, check with your health care provider if you aren't sure what is causing your illness or how to treat it.

Over the Counter Medications

You cannot cure a cold. It is a virus and must run its course. However, you can treat your symptoms with many different types of over the counter medications. Antihistamines can help with itching, watery eyes, runny noses and scratchy throat. Decongestants will help with a stuffy nose and sinus headaches. If you have a cough that is keeping you awake at night, you can take a cough syrup (suppressant). You should not take cough syrup during the day because coughing prevents congestion from settling and becoming infected.

Natural Remedies and Cold Treatments

Do you feed a cold and starve a fever? Does Aunt Bessie whip up her famous soup to cure everyone's illness? Most of those treatments are just old wives tales. However, there has been research to support the chicken soup theory. At the very least, it appears to help open the airways when you breath in the steam from the warm liquid. There probably is not any benefit from taking extra Vitamin C for your cold though. Most modern research has shown that there is no proof of any benefit.

Time, Time, All We Need is Time

Sadly, there is no miracle cure for a cold. They tend to last between one and two weeks and the only sure cure is to wait it out. Over the counter medications can be helpful to treat symptoms so you can go about your daily activities. Some natural remedies may also have an effect on the length of your cold or your general feeling of well being. But the only real treatment is the one thing no one has enough of...time!

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