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Home Treatments

 Home treatment for the common cold

Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen are effective for the fever and muscular aches of the common cold. Because of an association between aspirin and a rare but serious problem of the brain and liver known as Reye’s Syndrome, children and teenagers should not take aspirin or formulas containing aspirin.

The fever, aches, and exhaustion are most pronounced in the afternoon and evening, so take medications regularly over this period. You may buy a cold formula over the counter, but remember that the formulas are simply combinations of drugs available singly without a prescription. The combination you buy may not be right for your symptoms and may cost more than a more effective single drug. Rest. Drink plenty of liquid. The body requires more fluid when you have a fever. Fluids help to keep the mucus more liquid and help prevent complications. A vaporizer (particularly in the winter) will help liquefy secretions. 


Home treatment for a sore throat 

Cool or lukewarm liquids, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen are effective for sore throat pain and fever. Saltwater gargles and tea with honey or lemon may help. Time is the most important healer for pain. A vaporizer makes the waiting more comfortable for some. 


Home treatment for a runny nose 

Using handkerchiefs or tissues to blow your nose has the great advantage of safely moving mucus, virus particles, and allergens outside the body. A facial tissue has no side effects and costs less than drugs. 

If drugs must be used, there are two basic types: 

  • Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine shrink the mucous membranes and open the nasal passages. These should not be used if taking stimulants (e.g. for ADD) without consulting your doctor. (Note that sprays containing decongestants are suitable for adults, but should not be used for more than three days.)

  • Antihistamines block allergic reactions and decrease the amount of secretions. Antihistamines may cause drowsiness and interfere with sleep.  

Try to ensure that the mucus is thin rather than thick and sticky in order to prevent complications such as ear and sinus infections. Use saline nasal drops, increase the humidity in the air with a vaporizer or humidifier and drink a large amount of liquid to keep your body hydrated.


Home treatment for a cough

You can help thin the mucus in the breathing tubes and make it less sticky by increasing the humidity in the air with a vaporizer or a steamy shower. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids. Guaifenesin (present in drugs such as Robitussin or Mucinex) can help with a cough and is available without a prescription. Honey has been shown to be as effective as over the counter cough syrups.

If a postnasal drip is causing the cough, decongestants may help. Decongestants should not be used if taking stimulants (e.g. for ADD) without consulting your doctor. Avoid drugs that contain antihistamines because they dry the secretions and make them thicker. However, if an allergy is causing the cough, an antihistamine may help.  

Home treatment for ear pain

Acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen will provide partial pain relief. If symptoms continue for more than a few days, or are severe, schedule an appointment to visit HHWC.