If you are plagued by a scratchy throat, runny nose and cough, you probably have a viral infection of the head and throat, known as the common cold.
There are more than 200 cold viruses, which is why it is so easy to catch a cold, and why the symptoms can vary so much. There is no cure for the common cold, but there are things you can do to lessen your discomfort:
- Stay home from work or school for three or four days; don’t infect others
- Drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration
- Take an aspirin substitute for aches and fever
- For a sore throat, gargle with salt water a few times a day
- Use over-the-counter saline nose drops to clear up a stuffy nose
- Avoid smoking and smoky places
- Taking one 500-milligram tablet of vitamin C four times a day may lessen the discomfort or duration of your cold. But be aware – taking too much vitamin C over long periods of time can cause gastrointestinal symptoms
- Use a cool-mist humidifier to keep your nasal passages from drying out
Generally, it is a good idea to avoid taking over-the-counter cold medicines with “mega” formulas, which may contain more ingredients than you need. In fact, physicians recommend that you buy generic drugs with only one ingredient,such as aspirin, a cough suppressant, or an oral decongestant, to provide relief for the specific symptoms you’re experiencing.