Diagnosis & Treatment of Colds


Diagnosis of Cold

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.

How is the disease monitored? A person with any of the following symptoms should contact a doctor.
  • Green sputum.
  • A temperature higher than 102.5 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dehydration.
  • Cold symptoms that continue past 7 to 10 days.
Side Effects of Treatments 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.
After treatment Most people feel better within 7 to 10 days and no further treatment is needed.

Long Term effects of Treatment 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.