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include sneezing, dry throat, a stuffy nose, headache, watery eyes, and a cough. Your cough may be dry, or you may cough up mucus. You may also have muscle aches, joint pain, and tiredness. Rarely, you may have a fever. Cold symptoms occur from inflammation in your upper respiratory system caused by a virus. Most colds go away without treatment.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have increased tiredness and weakness.
- You are unable to eat.
- Your heart is beating much faster than usual for you.
- You see white spots in the back of your throat and your neck is swollen and sore to the touch.
- You see pinpoint or larger reddish-purple dots on your skin.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever higher than 102°F (38.9°C).
- You have new or worsening shortness of breath.
- You have thick nasal drainage for more than 2 days.
- Your symptoms do not improve or get worse within 5 days.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Treatment for cold symptoms
may include NSAIDS to decrease muscle aches and fever. Cold medicines may also be given to decrease coughing, nasal stuffiness, sneezing, and a runny nose.
Manage your cold symptoms:
The following may help relieve cold symptoms, such as a dry throat and congestion:
- Gargle with mouthwash or warm salt water as directed.
- Suck on throat lozenges or hard candy.
- Use a cold or warm vaporizer or humidifier to ease your breathing.
- Rest for at least 2 days and then as needed to decrease tiredness and weakness.
- Use petroleum based jelly around your nostrils to decrease irritation from blowing your nose.
- Drink plenty of liquids. Liquids will help thin and loosen thick mucus so you can cough it up. Liquids will also keep you hydrated. Ask your healthcare provider which liquids are best for you and how much to drink each day.
Prevent the spread of germs
by washing your hands often. You can spread your cold germs to others for at least 3 days after your symptoms start. Do not share items, such as eating utensils. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze using the crook of your elbow instead of your hands. Throw used tissues in the garbage.
Do not smoke:
Smoking may worsen your symptoms and increase the length of time you feel sick. Talk with your healthcare provider if you need help to stop smoking.
Follow up with your doctor as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Learn more about Cold Symptoms (Ambulatory Care)
IBM Watson Micromedex
- Acute Cough
- Acute Cough in Children
- Acute Headache
- Acute Headache in Children
- Chronic Cough
- Cluster Headache
- Cold Symptoms in Children
Mayo Clinic Reference
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.