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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

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FAQ: Cough and Cold Medicines

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    For in-depth information, see Vitamin C for the Common Cold.

    To avoid colds the natural way, it's best to make sure you've got a well-nourished immune system. Experts say a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help you ward off infections like colds and the flu.

    To keep healthy, try to eat the recommended dietary allowance of vitamins, and minerals.

    For in-depth information, see Starve a Cold, Feed a Fever?

    Regular exercise can also boost the immune system. People who do that still catch a virus, but they may have less-severe symptoms. They may also recover more quickly compared with less-healthy people.

    For in-depth information, see Exercise and the Common Cold

    Can antibiotics treat a cold?

    These medications only work against illnesses caused by bacteria, and colds are caused by viruses.

    Sometimes, an infection with bacteria can follow the cold virus. For example, you might get a sinus infection that lingers days after the cold is over. If that's the case, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

    For in-depth information, see Can Antibiotics Treat My Cold?

    Are kids' cold medicines safe?

    Children have special needs when it comes to cold medicine. Don't give over-the-counter cough and cold drugs to children under 4. Although kids' cold medicines may still be on the shelves at your drugstore, talk to your child's doctor before using them.

    Never give children age 18 or younger any product with aspirin unless your doctor has specifically told you to. Aspirin given to children with symptoms of a cold, the flu, or chickenpox can cause a rare but sometimes deadly condition called Reye's syndrome.

    For more in-depth information, see Children's Cold Medicine: Safety Information.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 11, 2015
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