Mothers are celebrated (if sometimes vilified) for their eagerness to advise
their children on matters big and small: how to behave, what to wear, whom to
marry, when to have kids ... and, oh yes, how to stay healthy during cold and
Does science back up what Dr. Mom told you about the common cold? Or was she
full of hot air? Here's what real doctors have to say about 10 familiar
You will probably feel a cold come on over the course of
a couple of days. As the cold gets worse, your nose may get stuffy with thicker
A cold is not the same as the
flu. Flu symptoms are worse and come on faster. If you
have the flu, you may feel very tired. You may also have a fever and shaking
chills, lots of aches and pains, a headache, and a cough.
feel like you have a cold all the time, or if cold symptoms last more than 2
weeks, you may have allergies or sinusitis. Call your doctor.
What can you do for a cold?
Good home treatment of
a cold can help you feel better. When you get a cold:
Get extra rest. Slow down just a little from
your usual routine. You don't need to stay home in bed, but try not to expose
others to your cold.
Drink plenty of fluids. Hot water, herbal tea,
or chicken soup will help relieve a stuffy nose and head.
aspirin, ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), or acetaminophen (such as
Tylenol) to relieve aches. Follow the package instructions carefully. If you give medicine to your child, follow what your doctor has told you about the amount to give. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20. It
has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
a humidifier in your bedroom and take hot showers to relieve a stuffy nose and
head. Saline drops may also help thick or dried mucus to drain.
If you feel mucus in the back of your throat (postnasal drip), gargle with warm water. This will
help make your throat feel better.
Use paper tissues, not
handkerchiefs. This will help keep your cold from spreading.
your nose gets red and raw, put a dab of petroleum jelly on the sore
Using a product containing zinc may help shorten the length of your cold by up to a day.1 But you have to take the zinc as soon as you have any cold symptoms. In some cases, zinc products that you spray or place into your nose can cause permanent loss of the sense of smell.2