How to Care for a Cold

Care for a Cold
Care for a Cold

How to Care for a Cold. Flu and colds are caused by different viruses. A cold is called an upper respiratory infection, because it involves the nose, throat and surrounding air passages. Most colds do not include fever, chills or substantial lung involvement.

Things You'll Need

  • Chicken Soup
  • Hot Beverages
  • Acetaminophen
  • Aspirins
  • Cold Compresses
  • Decongestant
  • Ibuprofen
  • Mouthwash
  • Throat Lozenges
  • Vitamin C

Eat chicken soup. It contains an amino acid called cysteine, which thins mucus and breaks up congestion. Plus, the steam from the soup helpsopen up air passages.

Gargle at the first sign of a scratchy throat with either mouthwash or 1 /2 tsp. of salt dissolved in 8 oz. warm water.

Stay warm. Getting chilled compromises your immune system.

Take aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever and inflammation if you are an adult. Give children acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Determine the dose according to the child's age and weight.

Drink hot beverages and take hot showers. Steam helps open up nasal passages and reduces congestion.

Drink a lot of liquid, enough so that your urine turns clear. Yellow urine means your urine is fairly concentrated. Clear urine means your body is well-hydrated.

Use cough syrup sparingly. Coughing is one of the ways the body gets rid of mucus.

Suck on a throat lozenge for relief from a sore throat. Choose a menthol-, phenol- or benzocaine-based lozenge; these are the ones that will help to numb the throat. They also help open up nasal passages. Zinc lozenges may also be helpful.

Put an extra pillow under your head when you sleep to help your nasal passages drain.

Rest. If you have a bad cold, one of the best ways to treat it is to take a few days off and sleep.

Tips & Warnings

  • Antibiotics are effective only against bacteria, so they are completely ineffective against a cold.
  • Too much vitamin C can cause diarrhea and gastric discomfort.
  • Take aspirin or ibuprofen to reduce fever and inflammation if you are an adult. Give children acetaminophen. Determine the dose according to the child's age and weight. If age and weight aren't compatible, calculate dose using weight.
  • Be cautious not to overmedicate yourself with over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. OTC cough syrups have multiple ingredients that sometimes counteract each other.
  • If your symptoms become severe, if your fever does not go down, if you have difficulty breathing or develop a serious cough, or if you have specific medical conditions or concerns, we recommend you contact a physician. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

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