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Colds :Treatment : Treatment, Procedure, Cost And Side Effects

Last Updated: Oct 11, 2022

What is the treatment of Colds?

Cold or also referred to as common cold is a viral infection which impacts the nose and the throat of the person. It’s a mild viral infection which affects upper respiratory tract (nose and throat). It is considered to be harmless and many viruses can cause this common type of cold. The discharge from nose becomes yellow or green and may be thicker as the cold runs. This is a very common type of infection across the world. It can happen due to changes in weather of the place. Small children under the age of six are at greater risks. On an average, a person can expect two to three colds in a year. One can recover from cold in 10 days or a week. Symptoms tend to prevail among those who smoke. It is better to consult a doctor if the symptoms don’t improve.

The symptoms start popping up after three days of your exposure to the cold virus. The symptoms vary among individuals and the common symptoms are a sore throat, running nose, cough, body aches and headaches, congestion, low fever, a feeling of unwell. In some cases as the time prolongs the discharge from nose becomes yellow or green and may be thicker as the cold runs. There is nothing to be worried about bacterial infection in such cases. Cold requires the patient to maintain a proper hygiene especially while sneezing, while experiencing running nose. Person with weak immune system when nearby a person suffering from common cold easily catches this viral infection. Rhinoviruses are the main reason behind the cold. The virus can enter our body through eyes, nose, and mouth. When someone who is sick sneezes or coughs or talks virus droplets spread in the air and spread the infection. Hand to hand contact with someone having cold and contaminated objects such as toys, towels or utensils can spread the cold from one to others.

Though cold can be treated easily at home and requires maintaining a clean and healthy hygiene. But in case of conditions like the following it is advised to consult the doctor immediately:

  1. It is recommended to consult a doctor for adults if a temperature of more than 101.3 F is noted and it is lasting for more than five days.
  2. If one feels shortness of breath and wheezing.
  3. If one feels a sore throat and headache or sinus pain which is severe.
  4. For children seek a consultation with a doctor if there is a fever of 100.4 F among newborns up to 12 weeks. In case of children when rising fever exist and which is lasting for more than two days consultation with the doctor is required.
  5. If the symptoms tend to worsen among children like if there is ear pain, wheezing, drowsiness, and fussiness among children consultation with the doctor is required. Also, it is good to consult if there is a lack of appetite.

This common cold can be diagnosed from their symptoms and signs. If a bacterial infection is suspected, then the patient will be asked to take a chest X-ray and some other test to know the root cause of the symptoms.

How is the treatment done?

Common cold is a very common disease and the treatment can be done through self-management in terms of ensuring proper hygienic practices. But if the condition is severe and symptoms like short breath, pain in throat, severe headache and persistent fever is noticed it is advised to consult the doctor immediately. The doctor shall examine the symptoms and thus may examine, nose, throat and ear. if the conditions are complicated the doctor may ask for an X-ray of chest and in some cases may ask for a sputum test. The available treatment for the common cold is as follows:

There is no as such cure for the cold. It is suggested not to use antibiotics until you are prone to bacterial infection due to the cold virus. Treatment aims at getting out of the sign and symptoms.

  1. Pain relievers: Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and other mild pain relievers are used to treat fever, headache and sore throat associated with the common cold. Other over the counter medications for infants is Tylenol (acetaminophen, infant’s fever all) or pediatric Advil, Motrin Infant to alleviate the symptoms.
  2. Anti- pyretic medicines are given to bring down the fever in the patients. Example: Paracetamol.
  3. Nasal decongestant sprays: decongestant sprays can be used for up to five days. Rebound symptoms tend to pop up if used for a long time. Those who are under six years of age are not encouraged to use such decongestant drops or sprays.
  4. Cough syrups: Cough syrups are given to patients who are having dry and sputum based cough. It shall also give them relief from throat itching.
  5. Maintain good hygiene: Clean the hands thoroughly and often with soap and water, disinfect the clothes, Sneeze and cough into tissues and discard them, etc.
  6. Only in case of associated bacterial infections the patient can be given antibiotics.

    If it is common cold it gets completely cured through the above medications, but if the condition is due to other diseases the doctor may advise for further examination like sputum test etc.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Those who are having symptoms of cold which includes running nose, pain in throat, fever, ear pain, etc. for more than five days can check the doctor and take medications. If you have breathing trouble and wheezing, then it is advisable to check with a doctor.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Normally everyone will have immunity to fight back to cold and fever. If it’s cured by itself and temperature is mild then it is advisable not to take any antibiotics and other medication. If the temperature and symptoms of cold stay for more than three to five days, then better to consult a doctor. Moreover people who are having other ailments or are allergic to medicines like NSAIDs which include anti-pyretic medicines are thus not eligible for the treatment.


Are there any side-effects?

Some of the side effects are as follows:

  1. Overdosage of pain relievers and antibiotics can cause dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision and stomach upset. There are chances of dry mouth, throat, and nose dryness etc.
  2. Loss of appetite and irritation.
  3. Use of the pain relievers medications should be for short duration as it can cause side effects. Those who are recovering from flu or chickenpox should not take aspirin. It can trigger Reye’s syndrome which is a life-threatening condition among children.
  4. It is advisable to follow directions before giving cold medications. Be careful not to give two medications of an active ingredient such as antihistamine, pain reliever or decongestant. Overdose can happen if the single ingredient is given too much. In case any patient reports any other complexity after undergoing the treatment the patient is advised to consult the doctor immediately.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

There is no vaccination to prevent the cold from being spreading. Some of the guidelines to follow are

  1. Hand washes: cleaning your hands with soap and water and spread the importance of hand washing among children. Reach out for a sanitizer, preferably alcohol based if soap is not available.
  2. Fight against infections: clean your bathroom and kitchen countertops with disinfectant and remembers to wash the children toys periodically.
  3. Use of tissues: use tissues while sneezing and coughing. Dispose the used tissues and wash your hands regularly. Try to teach children to bend below the elbow while sneezing and coughing. This can help them cover their mouth without using hands.
  4. Use disposable glasses: use disposable plates and glass if you are having a cold and don’t share it with family members.
  5. Stay away from close contact with the one who is sick.
  6. If you are choosing a child care center, choose the one with good hygiene and clear policies.
  7. Eating well and taking a good sleep and managing well during stress can help you to fight back cold.

How long does it take to recover?

The treatment recovery time varies from the patient condition to condition and differs from the mode of the treatment opted for the patient. It will take three to five days to recover from a normal cold and its symptoms. If you are prone to bacterial infection then it would take a bit more time of around 10-15 days to get rid of the disease.

What is the price of treatment in India?

The common cold and its treatment are very reasonable and cheap. A doctor consultation would cost you on an average Rs 100 to Rs 200. An x-ray or blood test can cost you around s 150 and the medications are also cheap around Rs 100 to Rs 200. Thus, the cumulative cost for the common cold treatment would be Rs: 500 to Rs: 3000 INR.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results are very effective. You can get rid of cold through medicine usage in three to five days. Maintain good hygiene and healthy diet to prevent the cold and its symptoms to reoccur. This is a disease which can occur any time in a patient. But the cure results are permanent in nature.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Some of the alternatives treatment for the common cold is as follows:

  1. Homeopathy and Ayurveda are some alternative options to fight back to cold.
  2. Taking a ginger tea can give you some relief
  3. A mixture of cinnamon, lemon, and honey can also relax you. Make a syrup with all three and consuming it twice a day can help to get rid of cold and cough.
  4. Drink lukewarm water, this can sooth the sore throat
  5. Gargle with salt water
  6. Drink milk with turmeric
  7. Spiced tea can help you from headaches
  8. Ginger and tulsi leaves can also be used to treat cold. An extract of ginger crushed tulsi leaves and honey can give relief from cold and cough.
  9. Flaxseeds are another treatment option for cold and cough.


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Written ByDr. Akhilesh Singh Post Graduate Course In Diabetology,CCEBDM(DIABETOLOGY) & CCMH ( CARDIOLOGY)General Physician
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