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November 2018

Are You Making Your Cold Worse?

Ugh! You’ve caught another @#$%! cold. (Darn you, germy children or coworkers!) There must be something you can do to get rid of it faster. But be careful. These things can actually make you worse:

  • Antibiotics. Colds are caused by viruses, so antibiotics are useless. They only fight bacterial infections. Taking them for a cold can make it harder to fight bacterial infections in the future.

  • Pretending you’re well. Faking it until you make it robs you of resting time to get well and risks spreading germs to others. (Darn you … you!)

  • Overdoing over-the-counter (OTC) cold products. Medicated decongestant nasal sprays may provide short-term relief, but overuse can actually make nasal congestion worse.

Here’s a cold hard truth: There are no magical cures for the common cold. Nada! So what works?

  • In the words of the wise one, Cookie Monster—“Take it slow, take it easy, take a rest.” And drink plenty of fluids to help your immune system destroy the virus. (Cookie didn’t say that one.)

  • Wash your hands often. Try not to touch your mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands. (Gross.)

  • Isolate yourself. Stay home while you are sick. Limit contact with loved ones, too.

  • Read labels and use OTC cold relief remedies as directed. Pain relievers and decongestants may provide symptom relief, but they won’t shorten your cold.


Online Medical Reviewer: Gonnella, Joseph, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 9/3/2018
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