Management tips for the common cold

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Management tips for the common cold

There are no very effective treatments for the common cold but antibiotics certainly do not help and definitely cause harm.1

  1. Lower expectations - advise that any cough may last for up to 4 weeks.
  2. Taking regular paracetamol as needed may be helpful. 
  3. Avoid over the counter cough medicines - (probably not effective).
  4. Vapour Rub  on children’s chests may help with cough for those aged 2 to 11 years.2
  5. Decongestants such as oral pseudoephedrine (need a controlled drugs form in NZ) and nasal xylometazoline 0.1% are probably effective (neither are subsidized).
  6. Honey works for some coughs in children; 1 tsp for one to five-year-olds.
  7. Ipratropium nasal spray is effective for rhinitis.


  1. Antibiotics for the common cold and acute purulent rhinitis, Cochrane Library. 2013   Click here
  2. Vapor Rub, Petrolatum, and No Treatment for Children With Nocturnal Cough and Cold Symptoms Pediatrics. 2010 Click here

Gems are chosen by the Goodfellow director Dr. Bruce Arroll to be either practice changing or practice maintaining. The information is educational and not clinical advice.

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As published in NZ Doctor 06/06/2018