Is There a Treatment for the Common Cold?

Oct 02, 2023
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Managing your cold at home can be exhausting and sometimes overwhelming. Learn more about how getting treatment from an expert can make the process much more manageable.

The common cold is an upper respiratory infection caused by several viruses. Rhinoviruses cause most colds, but other viruses like coronaviruses and adenoviruses can also be the culprits.

The viruses that cause the common cold are typically transmitted through airborne droplets, direct contact with infected people, or contact with contaminated surfaces. 

Your immune response kicks in once the virus enters your system, causing familiar symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, and the overall feeling of being under the weather.

A common cold is just that — common. Yet, treatment can seem complicated. Dr. Mani Zadeh, a board-certified head and neck surgeon in Los Angeles, California, specializes in complex and common conditionals alike — even the common cold.

Most colds run their course within a week or so, but if your symptoms persist, you could develop complications, such as ear infections, bronchitis, sinusitis, or pneumonia. Here, he helps you understand how to treat the common cold and manage its symptoms. 

Symptoms of the common cold 

The common cold triggers a range of symptoms, most centered around your nose and throat. While sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and sore throat are the most prevalent symptoms, you may also experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Mild headache
  • Body aches
  • Low-grade fever
  • Cough

Although these symptoms are usually mild, they can cause significant discomfort and disrupt daily activities.

Treatment options for the common cold

There's currently no cure for the common cold. However, this isn't dire news. While there's no treatment to completely rid your system of the virus, there are several ways to help you manage your symptoms effectively. 

Over-the-counter medication

There are many over-the-counter medications to relieve cold symptoms. These include antihistamines to manage sneezing and itching, decongestants to clear a blocked nose, and cough syrups for a persistent cough. These medications can help you feel better but won't speed up your recovery.

Home remedies

Home remedies like hot water with lemon and honey, ginger tea, and warm chicken soup have long been go-to options for people dealing with a common cold. While clinical evidence supporting their effectiveness is limited, they can provide comfort and may help ease symptoms like sore throat and congestion.

Myths and misconceptions

Antibiotics have no role in treating a viral infection like the common cold. Using them unnecessarily can contribute to antibiotic resistance — a significant public health concern. If you're unsure about the best course of treatment, consult Dr. Zadeh for personalized advice.

While many believe that taking large doses of vitamin C or echinacea can cure or prevent a cold, little scientific evidence supports these claims. At best, they may slightly reduce the duration of your symptoms.

The idea that you can "sweat out" a cold by exercising vigorously or wrapping up warmly also has no scientific basis. Excessive sweating can lead to dehydration, making it harder for your body to fight the virus.


Simple practices like washing your hands frequently, avoiding close contact with someone with a cold, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can significantly reduce your risk of catching a cold. Also, be aware of your environment; cold viruses thrive in low-humidity settings, so using a humidifier can help.

If your symptoms last over a week or worsen despite home care, it may be time to seek professional guidance. Dr. Zadeh can assess your condition and provide tailored advice, ensuring you get the best treatment for your symptoms.

So, can the common cold be treated? The answer is nuanced. While no cure exists, there are various ways to help you manage and relieve symptoms, making your experience more bearable. 

For expert advice and treatment tailored for you and the symptoms you're experiencing, schedule an appointment online with Dr. Zadeh or call 310-286-0123.