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What To Do For...

Stuffy head, nose or ears:

Drink hot liquids, such as chicken soup or broth.

Apply warm, moist washcloths to your forehead and cheeks.

Breathe in the cool mist from a room humidifier, or the warm mist from a hot shower.

Spray saline (salt water) solution into your nose as often as necessary for nasal stuffiness and to keep the inside of your nose from drying and crusting.

If these don’t seem to help, take the decongestant pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) 30 mg. Two tablets can be used every four to six hours. Side effects may include shakiness, increased heart rate and insomnia.

A decongestant nasal spray such as oxymetazoline (Afrin) may be used, giving one to two sprays in each nostril every 12 hours. Don't use for more than two or three days, because of rebound nasal stuffiness.

If you have diabetes, glaucoma, poorly controlled high blood pressure, heart disease or other chronic medical conditions; if you’re on prescription medications; or taking certain non-prescription supplements or other over-the-counter medications, check with a health care provider before taking any medications.

Fever, headache, muscle aches

Get lots of rest.

Drink plenty of liquids.

Take acetaminophen (Tylenol); you can take two 325-mg. tablets up to four times a day.

Take ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, Motrin) instead of or in addition to acetaminophen. Based on 200-mg tablets, take two (400 mg.) every four to six hours or three to four (600 – 800 mg.) three times per day. Take ibuprofen with food, milk or antacids, not on an empty stomach.

Sore throat

Stop smoking.

Gargle with lukewarm salt water every two hours. To make salt water, dissolve ½ teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of water.

Moisten your throat with lozenges (Sucrets), ice chips, or sugar-free hard candies.

For pain, use acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen. See the section on fever and aches for dosing recommendations.

Cough and chest congestion

Stop smoking.

Drink plenty of liquids.

Breathe in the warm mist from a hot shower.

Moisten your throat with cough drops, lozenges, or sugar-free hard candies.

If your cough is dry, persistent and keeping you awake at night, try a cough suppressant such as guaifenesin with dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM or Tussin DM); use two teaspoons every four to six hours.

Keep in mind...

Flu shots do not protect against colds and other flu-like illnesses.

Echinacea, vitamin C or zinc haven't been scientifically proven to protect against colds or flu.

Antibiotics are useless against viruses.

All-in-one cold medications may include drugs you don't need and produce side effects you don’t want.

Call your healthcare provider if...

Your temperature is more than 103 - 104 F.

Your temperature has been higher than 101 F for more than three days.

You have a temperature of 100.5 F for two weeks or more, but no other symptoms.

Call immediately if any of these signs and symptoms is accompanied by a fever:

Severe headache;

Significant stiff neck and pain when you bend your head forward;

Mental confusion;

Persistent vomiting;

Unusual skin rash;

Severe throat swelling;

Unusual eye sensitivity to bright light;

Difficulty breathing;

Extreme listlessness or irritability;

Abdominal pain or pain when urinating; or

Any other unexplained symptoms.

Taking your temperature

A digital thermometer is a fast and accurate way to check your temperature.

What do the numbers mean?
For adults, a normal temperature is 97 – 99 F; a low-grade fever is 99 – 101.8 F; a significant fever is over 102 F.

Some experts feel fever may be a helpful body response to fighting an infection. Not all low-grade fevers require treatment.