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California State University, Long Beach
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General Cold Symptoms: Guidelines for Self-Care

For General Cold Symptoms

Home Treatment

  • Drink 8-10 glasses of liquids: water and juices.
  • Get plenty of rest. Abstain from vigorous exercise until you are feeling better.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Humidify your room; take warm steamy showers.
  • Use disposable tissues. Wash hands frequently.

Over-the-Counter Medication

  • Decongestants containing pseudoephedrine (Sudafed).
  • Do not take someone else medication or pills you have saved from another infection. You may cause a more serious problem and interfere with lab tests and cultures.
  • Avoid using antihistamines for your cold symptoms. They may cause excessive drying and make secretions too thick for the body to eliminate. Antihistamines are more helpful for hay fever-like symptoms.

Fever

Home Treatment

  • Cool sponge baths.

Over-the-Counter Medication

  • Take Tylenol or ibuprofen. Avoid aspirin if you have the flu or chicken pox.

For General Cold Symptoms

Home Treatment

  • Drink plenty of clear liquids (water is best).
  • Humidify room.
  • If you are a smoker - STOP

Over-the-Counter Medication

  • Take a cough syrup with an expectorant of Glyceryl Guiacolate (Robitussin), or expectorant/cough suppressant such as Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM).

Headache and Body Aches

Home Treatment

  • Drink plenty of clear liquids.

Over-the-Counter Medication

  • Take Tylenol or medications containing ibuprofen (such as Advil).

Frequent, Dry Hacking Cough

Home Treatment

  • Humidify room.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.

Over-the-Counter Medication

  • Use throat lozenges. Use a cough syrup with an expectorant/cough suppressant such as Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM).

Sore Throat, Hoarseness

Home Treatment

  • Rest vocal chords (avoid talking), do not whisper (it strains the chords).
  • Gargle with warm salt water (1/4 tsp. salt to 8 oz).
  • Honey or lemon in tea.
  • Humidify room or use vaporizer.
  • Drink fluids.

Over-the-Counter Medication

  • Use throat lozenges, lifesavers, or cough drops. Any medicated or non medicated lozenge will work; throat spray such as Chloraseptic may be used.

Stuffy Nose

Home Treatment

  • Humidify room and/or take steamy showers.

Over-the-Counter Medication

  • Avoid nasal sprays unless prescribed. Prolonged use (3-4 days) may cause rebound nasal membrane swelling, making your symptoms worse.