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Mother Knows Best When it Comes to Colds February 1, 2008

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Rebecca Sylvester at 706/828-2394.

University Hospital Nurse Practitioner Says Mother Knew Best When Treating the Common Cold

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Jan. 31, 2008 – With the recent Food and Drug Administration recommendations for not using cold medications for children younger than 2, University Hospital Nurse Practitioner Victoria Burt says treating colds the “old fashioned way” is often the best course.

“The first thing to remember is that a cold is a virus that must run its course, usually 7 to 10 days,” Ms. Burt said. “. Anything that you take or give your children is basically to help them feel a little better while the virus runs its course. Nothing will ‘cure’ a cold.”

For most people who don't have a condition that prohibits their use, acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Tylenol or Advil) will give enough relief to the symptoms that can range from low-grade fever, chills, cough, mild sore throat, runny nose or congestion, she said.

Running a cool mist humidifier, especially at night, will help clear congestion. Taking in plenty of caffeine-free liquids like Gatorade will fight dehydration that will make symptoms worse. Non-medicated saline nose sprays can help with head congestion.

“Remember that coughing is your body’s natural way to keep the throat clean and clear; allowing yourself to cough will help you get rid of mucus and phlegm,” Ms. Burt said.

Despite its benefits, however, coughing can be bothersome. A cough should only be treated if it is hindering sleep or every day activities. Cough drops and/or hard candies can help to alleviate a "dry tickle," but hard candy is not recommended for children because of the choking hazard. Drinking lots of water is another way to lessen a cough.

“There is a lot of comfort to be found in some of those home remedies that our parents and grandparents used,” Ms. Burt said. “There is some evidence to support the curative properties of hot liquids, particularly chicken soup or broth and hot tea. If nothing else, they can help soothe a sore throat and loosen congestion, and give you a comforting feeling while you get better.”

Strict attention to infection-control practices should decrease or prevent spread of infection, Ms. Burt said. This is especially important so the cold isn't spread throughout your household. Frequent hand-washing and not sharing items such as cups, glasses, utensils and lip gloss with an infected person should decrease the spread of virus to others.

Unfortunately, keeping children with colds or other respiratory illnesses (without fever) who are well enough to attend child care or school settings will probably not decrease the spread of colds because the viruses are often spread in the early stages of illness, Ms. Burt said.

“When the fever exceeds 101 or cannot be brought down with over-the-counter analgesics. When the sore throat becomes become really bad and affects your ability to swallow or eat. When the congestion appears to enter to chest and is no longer just head congestion. When a cough disturbs sleep -- these are all reasons to consult your physician,” she explained.

For more information, call University Hospital’s ASK-A-NURSE where registered nurses can answer your questions 24 hours a day. The number is 706/737-8423.


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