The diagnosis of a cold is often a self–diagnosis. A doctor will examine the head, neck and lungs, and will look at the ears, throat, eyes and nose. A doctor is trained to tell the difference between a cold and other illnesses that are caused by bacteria and may require different treatment.
Treatment of Cold
Because nothing can cure a cold, treating the symptoms is all that can be done. A running nose can be treated with antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine or clemastine and decongestants such as pseudoephedrine.
A fever can be treated with fever–reducing drugs such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. Children should never be given aspirin. A person with a cold should drink plenty of fluids and take rest.
Most people feel better within 7 to 10 days and no further treatment is needed.
Consult a Doctor
A person with any of the following symptoms should contact a doctor.
Side Effects of Treatment
The side effects that may occur are specific to the drugs used to treat a cold.
- Aspirin and ibuprofen can irritate the stomach.
- Antihistamines can cause drowsiness.
- Antihistamines and decongestants can make the sinuses overly dry.
- Driving or operating machinery should be limited when taking cold medications.
Most colds resolve within 7 to 10 days. Some people will develop complications, such as a sinus infection, ear infection or long–term cough. Persons with breathing difficulties or lung conditions such as asthma are more likely to develop complications. Some children develop ear infections or sinus infections after they have a cold.