cold

Soothing symptoms & when to seek medical care


Sore Throat (often the first sign of an oncoming cold!)

What you can do:

  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Gargle with warm salt water (one teaspoon salt in one cup of hot water) every few hours to help with pain
  • Cough drops, or hard candy can moisten a dry, irritated throat
  • Sore throat lozenges or sprays to numb the throat
  • Use a vaporizer or hot shower steam to breathe in moist heat
  • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain as directed. Avoid using aspirin if you are under 20 years old
  • Avoid smoking and smoky areas
  • More information on sore throats »

Seek medical attention if you…

  • are having trouble breathing or swallowing
  • have white or yellow patches on your tonsils
  • have a sore throat lasts more than 7 days
  • had close physical contact with someone diagnosed with strep recently
  • have a skin rash and a sore throat
  • have enlarged lymph nodes that last for more than 7 days

Nasal Congestion

What you can do:

  • Drink plenty of fluids every few hours to help thin mucus
  • Breathe in moist heat from a vaporizer or shower to moisten nasal passages and clear mucus. Be sure to keep your vaporizer clean of mold
  • Use irrigation tools like a saline nasal spray or a neti pot to remove excess sinus secretions and make it easier to breathe

Seek medical attention if…

  • the congestion does not clear within 2 weeks
  • your sinuses are tender and painful
  • you have a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher

Fever

What you can do:

  • Help the body naturally cool itself. Put a cold washcloth on your head or neck or take a lukewarm shower to help evaporation
  • Use ibuprofen or acetaminophen according to label directions. Avoid using aspirin if you are under age 20
  • Stay hydrated, drink fluids every few hours and watch for signs of dehydration

Seek medical attention if your fever…

  • is higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two days
  • accompanies a rash, headache, stiff neck, irritability or confusion
  • accompanies back pain, abdominal pain, or painful urination
  • accompanies a cough that produces brown or green sputum

Cough

What you can do:

  • Use a vaporizer or hot shower steam to loosen congestion
  • Drink plenty of liquids to help loosen mucus secretions in your throat for a more productive cough
  • Hot beverages with honey can prevent coughing and soothe the throat
  • Naproxen to treat airway inflammation
  • Cough drops, lozenges or hard candy can moisten a dry, irritated throat
  • Elevate your head with extra pillows at night
  • Avoid smoking and smoky areas

Seek medical attention if you…

  • cough up bloody mucus
  • have a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • experience shortness of breath or severe chest pains
  • have a cough that lasts longer than two weeks