According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or NIAID, there is really no cure for the common cold per se, as the cold will naturally disappear after two to four days if no complications develop. However, there are some remedies and medicines that can be used to ease or relieve the symptoms of the common cold virus infection.
Traditional Cold Remedies
Traditional remedies for the cold consist of bed rest, drinking a lot of water and juice, and gargling with a warm saltwater solution to ease itchy throats.
OTC Cold Medicines
Medicines touted as cold remedies likewise do not remove the common cold virus out of the body but work to relieve it of the cold symptoms. The symptoms of the common cold that are targeted by these cold remedies are cough, nasal congestion and rhinorrhea.
It is important to check the generic name of the cold medicines that you purchase in order to ascertain their efficacy. According to a study of Dr. Madeline Simasek and Dr. David Blandino, medicines with dextromethorphan, which are used to relieve cough symptoms are effective for adult patients, but not with young children and adolescents. Medicines that have as their active ingredient hydrocodone are not effective in treating cough caused by the common cold virus.
Aspirin not Recommended
To relieve fever and headaches caused by the common cold virus, aspirins are sometimes taken. But according to The American Academy of Pediatrics, aspirins should not be taken for the common cold as they have a negative effect on those with viral illnesses like the common cold.
Over the counter remedies such as decongestants will not have any effect on the duration of the common cold but they can, as explained above, help alleviate the symptoms that accompany the common cold, particularly with nasal congestion and runny nose.
“Common Cold Treatment.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Home Page. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/commonCold/Pages/treatment.aspx.
Simasek, Madeline, and David A. Blandino. “Treatment of the Common Cold.” American Family Physician 75.4 (2007). American Academy of Family Physicians. Web. 07 Nov. 2010. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2007/0215/p515.html.