What's the Best Treatment for a Cold?

9 answers | Last updated: Nov 01, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What's the best treatment for a cold?

Expert Answers

Dr. Leslie Kernisan is the author of a popular blog and podcast at BetterHealthWhileAging.net. She is also a clinical instructor in the University of California, San Francisco, Division of Geriatrics.

The best way to treat a cold is to rest and treat symptoms if necessary. Since colds are due to viruses, antibiotics have not been shown to help, and in some cases they can be harmful.

The major symptoms of the common cold can be treated in the following ways:


  • Of the several drugs used to reduce fever, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the safest.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen are fine for younger people who don't have kidney disease or ulcers.

Nasal congestion

  • Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) help some people. Try not to use decongestants for more than a few days, however, or you can start getting a rebound runny nose.

  • Phenylephrine is now more widely available than pseudoephedrine -- many pharmacies place restrictions on pseudoephedrine because it can be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Phenylephrine doesn't work as well, though. In fact, in some studies the usual over-the-counter dose was no better than a placebo. If you want to try a decongestant, ask for pseudoephedrine, which is often kept behind the counter.

  • Antihistamines such as Benadryl have been shown by studies to be less helpful than pseudoephedrine. Also, the elderly should use antihistamines with caution because they can lead to confusion and falls.

  • Nasal steroids are not proven to help with the common cold, although they do work well for congestion due to allergies.


  • Experts are divided. The American College of Chest Physicians doesn't recommend cough suppressants for cough due to the common cold, but some studies have shown a small benefit from dextromethorphan, which is the most common ingredient in cough syrup.

  • Cough syrup is fine to use, but don't expect miracles; all it can do is partially relieve symptoms.

Zinc lozenges are sold at health food stores and some pharmacies as an over-the-counter supplement to treat the common cold. But the results of scientific studies have been mixed, and there have been reports of permanent changes to sense of smell associated with use of OTC zinc treatments. In June 2009, the FDA issued an advisory regarding some of these zinc products, so be cautious about using them.

Most colds get better on their own within two weeks, and the majority of cold sufferers eventually recover without seeing a doctor. However, a small minority of colds may lead to a subsequent bacterial infection, such as sinusitis or pneumonia. If you're getting worse or are still concerned about symptoms after two weeks, call your doctor.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

A natural Way to ease congestion:

For congestion a stream treatment in the shower or running hot water in the face bowl, take a large towel cover your head as you position towel to cover the face bowl also with the towel. The steam from the hot running water, breath in and out for at least 7- 10 minutes. This will help tremdeously to ease congestion. After this treatment, blow nose gently.

Lorpool answered...

Eat lots of citrus fruits Get plenty of rest drink soups avoid cold foods and drinks have lots of teas (herbal, ginger) keep warm Avoid bathing in evenings and nights for awhile For sore mouth, gargle a mixture of table salt and baking soda as often as five to eight times a day Take panadol every 4 to 6 hours for 3 to 4 days (if you have fever and pains)

Superstring answered...

For congestion: move around! Sitting still or lying in bed are the WORST for congestion. You don't have to run a marathon, even strolling around the house a little bit will do it.

A fellow caregiver answered...

as soon as you feel a cold coming down...bee propolis is the answer 2 pills 3x per day am midafternoon and at bedtime...cannot hurt you from the beehive..it workd all the time...sometimes nothing comes and sometimes it is milder...do this for about 3 days and then am and pm for 2 days and then 1 am and 1 at bedtime...and keep it up for 2 weeks...............works for me

Samuel50 answered...

Add pepper powder and turmeric powder in hot milk and drink. It will help to reduce cough and also increases immunity level in your body.

A fellow caregiver answered...

The best natural,not only cure,but is also a guarantee cold prevention if eaten, at least once a day,is a lemon. I'm not a doctor,but I am stating a fact. I haven't had a cold in 2yrs. I just stumbled up on it myself. I usually catch a cold during flu season, up until 2yrs. ago. Haven't had on since.You have nothing to do but try it.If it doesn't work u can curse me out and post it.If it does, post it 4 all to know.

Thunderbolt answered...

The best natural,not only cure,but is also guarantee cold prevention if eaten on a daily basic,is a lemon.I'm not a doctor,but I'm stating a fact.I haven't had a cold in 2yrs.. I just stumbled up on it myself.I usually catch a cold during flu season every year,up until 2yrs. ago.Haven't had one since.You have nothing to lose,try it.If it doesn't work you can curse me out and post it.If it does,post it 4 all to know.

Sheryw answered...

There is a misconception that cold sore is a symptom of cold. Fever blisters can be defined as a group of small blisters on the lips or around the mouth. The condition causes the skin around the blisters to appear reddish, swollen and sore. The infection is caused by a virus known as herpes simplex virus abbreviated as HSV. With proper medication and proper online help like [http://ranzynn.com/cold-sore-remedies/], this condition can be eliminated after a few days. With cold it is different.

Truth be told is that it is quite hard to find a good relief for a cold. The best remedy for a cold is to treat the symptoms as opposed to the condition itself. It is also important to be familiar with the treatment options that are available when it comes to treating a cold. In relation to the treatment options, you can exploit either of the following: nasal spray, cough syrup, decongestants and antihistamines, antibiotics and cold among other. As you can see, most of the treatment options available above are for dealing with the symptoms as opposed to the condition itself. The best thing about cold treatment is that you can find available home treatment options that can work magically to get rid of the cold symptoms.