General Principles

Cold treatments recommended in have been properly tested and found to be effective. Their side effects are known and are acceptable for treating a mild illness like a cold. They include the following:

Older antihistamines ("first generation")
Nonsteroidal antinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Decongestants (vasoconstrictors)
Cough suppressants (narcotics)
Anticholinergics (ipratropium)

A common cold is a two step process (see How Cold Virus Infection Occurs and What Causes Cold Symptoms). The first step is virus infection of nasal cells. The second step is the activation of the inflammatory mediators which directly cause the cold symptoms. Ideally, it is desirable to treat both parts of the process but currently drugs for treating the virus infection (antivirals) are not commercially available.

Selecting Cold Treatments Based on Testing Status

Cold treatments can be placed into 3 categories:

1. Adequately tested and found to be effective and safe (see Testing Cold Treatments)

2. Adequately tested and found not to be effective and/or safe

3. Have not had adequate testing to determine if effective and safe

Using a cold treatment which has received proper testing and is known to be effective and safe has the following advantages:

The treatment will likely work for you.

Most of the treatment's side effect are likely to be known.

You will receive honest value.

Using a cold "treatment" based on an idea that has not had adequate testing has the following disadvantages:

The supposed "treatment" may not work because the idea on which it is based is wrong.

The "treatment" may harm you because of unknown side effects.

Using an untested "treatment" which is ineffective keeps you from using a proven treatment that does work.

You may not receive honest value.


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