Common Cold

Nothing cures the common cold, not even antibiotics.

What is it?
An illness such as a common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory tract that is caused by a virus. Some colds are mild while others are severe.

Last 7—10 days and may include some or all of these:

  • Fever
  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Runny nose, with yellow to green discharge
  • Nasal & sinus congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Cough with or without phlegm
  • Headache & body aches
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Blocked feeling in ears

Fever is an important part of your body’s defense system that may help combat the cold virus. You may experience head and body aches because the fever causes the blood vessels to dilate. It isn’t necessary to reduce the fevers below 101° F, unless you are uncomfortable.

Sore Throat
Take 400-800 mg of Ibuprofen two or three times a day as needed with food. Increase fluid intake. Gargle with warm salt water or use OTC throat sprays or lozenges. Take OTC Cold Ez-Zinc lozenges, 13.3 mg, with onset of cold symptoms as directed on package. This may shorten the severity and duration of the cold.

Nasal Congestion
Increase fluid intake to loosen up secretions. Nasal irrigation with OTC saline nasal spray three times daily to loosen up mucous; Mucinex will help to loosen up secretions. Sudafed-type medications will help dry up secretions.
For chronic nasal congestion, we may use a steroid-type nasal spray. If you are using a steroid nasal spray (such as Nasonex or Flonase,) you should irrigate with the saline nasal spray first and then blow your nose well before using the steroid nasal spray. You should not blow your nose for at least 30 minutes after using the Nasonex or Flonase.

Coughing helps rid your respiratory tract of foreign matter and secretions. There are two types of cough: productive and non-productive.
A productive cough brings up foreign matter and mucous. This type of cough should be encouraged and not suppressed.
A dry “non-productive” cough is usually caused by irritation. This type of cough may cause further irritation and interfere with daily activities, so suppression may be helpful.

General Information

  • Get plenty of rest: 8-10 hours while you are ill
  • Drink 8-10 glasses of fluid daily (water, soups, juice). Fluids help loosen and drain nasal secretions and replace fluids lost with fever and throat irritation.
  • Eat sensibly
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking. Smoke dries and irritates mucous membranes. Alcohol has a dehydrating affect. Both issues may prolong a cough.
  • Cover your cough and sneezes and wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading cold viruses.
  • If you have a fever over 101° F, difficulty breathing, or if your symptoms worsen, call us at 860-486-4700.

For relief of symptoms: Over the Counter (OTC) Remedies

Pain relievers/fever reducers
May help with body aches, sore throats, headaches, fever. Ibuprofen and Naproxen also help with inflammation.


  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
    Take up to 600-800 mg (3 to 4 pills) two or three times a day as needed, with food.
  • Naproxen (Aleve)
    Take 2 pills twice a day with food.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
    Take as directed on package. Avoid alcohol while taking.

May help to loosen mucous so it can be coughed up or blown out of the nose.


  • Mucinex (guaifenesin) Maximum Strength
    Take 1200 mg twice a day (every twelve hours.)
  • Mucinex D Maximum Strength
    (guaifenesin 1200 mg + pseudoephedrine 120 mg)

For daytime use only. Follow package directions.

  • Mucinex DM Maximum Strength
    (guaifenesin 1200mg + Dextromethorphan 60 mg)
    One pill twice a day.

Cough suppressants
OTC may help quiet a cough, especially a dry cough.


  • Robitussin-DM (Guaifenesin/Dextromethorphan) cough suppressant

OTC may help dry up secretions and shrink swollen membranes.


  • Sudafed-type medication (pseudoephedrine or equivalent) – for daytime use only; you must ask the pharmacist, as this is now a “behind the counter medication”; it is not a prescription, but you must sign for it per federal law.

OTC antihistamines for itching and/or congestion (make sure during waking hours or try to get non-drowsiness formula).

Benadryl causes drowsiness, so take in the evening at bedtime. Others may include: Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, Chlortrimeton, etc.

Combination Products
Important: Make sure when using OTC products together that there are not more than one that contain the same ingredient.
For example, “NyQuil Cold and Flu” contains:

  • Acetaminophen 650 mg (Pain reliever/fever reducer)
  • Dextromethorphan HBr 30 mg (Cough suppressant)
  • Doxylamine succinate 12.5 mg (Antihistamine)

So you would not want to take additional OTC products containing those ingredients.