St. Luke's Healthcare
Internal Medicine, Primary Care & Addiction Medicine located in Mid-City, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Mandeville, Denham Springs, Hammond & Abbeville, LA
Common Cold Q & A
What is the common cold?
The common cold is a mild illness that spreads easily through water droplets from the nose and mouth. You can also catch it after touching door handles and other shared objects, but washing your hands often works well to prevent transmission.
Caused by a virus, the common cold infects your upper respiratory tract. The symptoms, while bothersome, typically go away within a week even without treatment. The St. Luke’s Healthcare team can help you manage the symptoms and clear the infection quickly.
Is there a difference between the common cold and the flu?
For the most part, the common cold and the seasonal flu share the same group of symptoms. It’s likely that you have one of the two if you’re experiencing:
- A runny nose
- Body aches
- Low-grade fever
- Sore throat
The common cold and the flu are not the same despite sharing these symptoms because they come from different viruses. Flu symptoms tend to be more intense, and there are many more possible complications from the flu than from the common cold.
Also, flu symptoms appear suddenly while a cold sets in slowly.
How can I manage the common cold at home?
Home care is enough to manage cold symptoms in most cases, and you should try to stay home and rest as much as possible while you have a cold to avoid transmitting your infection to people you typically see every day.
It’s important to drink lots of fluids while you have a cold so you avoid dehydration. Warm fluids, like soup, feel soothing and can ease some of your congestion. The team at St. Luke’s Healthcare also recommends using a humidifier if you have one to moisten the air in your room.
Which treatments are available for the common cold?
St. Luke’s Healthcare treats the common cold as well as secondary infections that it can cause, like ear or sinus infections. The cold goes away on its own, so treatment focuses on relieving symptoms so you’re more comfortable. To treat your cold, your providers may offer or recommend:
- Cough syrup
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Lozenges or cough drops
- Decongestant nasal spray
- Supplements (vitamin C, zinc)
While aspirin and medications that contain it are safe for adults, you shouldn’t give them to children or teenagers to ease aches from the common cold. The St. Luke’s Healthcare team works with you to create an age-appropriate treatment plan for your or anyone in your family.
If you have symptoms that might be from the common cold or the flu, call St. Luke’s Healthcare for an appointment, or request your visit online today.