The 7 Effective Treatments for Common Cold Symptoms in Adults

September 8th, 2019

By Natan Schleider, M.D.

Department of Health Advertisement on Cold and Flu Prevention (Circa Early 1900s)

‘We can put a man on the mood but can’t cure the common cold.” My grandmother would shake her head. saying this repeatedly, making me chug grape flavored Dimetapp and prune juice. This was her cold remedy cocktail and my have the cold remedy cocktail options grown. Walk through a large pharmacy’s Cold and Flu section without the Physician Desk Reference and you’re lost.

So while no cure exists for the common cold, also called a viral upper respiratory tract infection or URI, studies have been done revisiting whether common remedies used were, in fact, helpful or not. Some are even harmful.

The following seven remedies have good data to support their efficacy in relieving cold symptoms:

  1. Acetaminophen (aka Tylenol)
  2. Combination anthistamine plus decongestant (IE Zyrtec-D)
  3. Intransal ipratropium bromide (aka Atrovent) – particularly helpful for reducing the lingering cough after the infection which can last weeks
  4. Intranasal oxymetazotine aka Afrin – not to exceed 10 days
  5. Lactobacillus casei 22 grams per day in dairy products for 3 months
  6. NSAIDs – ie Advil or Alleve
  7. Zinc acetate or zinc gluconate – 80 to 92 mg per day within 3 days of symptom onset and continue until symptoms resolve

And now the list of remedies historically thought to have worked but proven no better than placebo for cold symptoms like cough: acetylcysteine, antibacterial antibiotics, antihistamines taken alone (that is, without a decongestant bundled in), antitussives and expectorants, codeine, echinacea, intranasal corticosteroids, African geranium, steam, garlic, Vitamin C. Vitamin D, and Vitamin E which actually worsened cold symptoms at doses of 200 mg or more.

So use the above list to help shop for cold symptom remedies and feel free to comment.


Thanks for reading,

Natan Schleider, M.D.

Turning 50? Get ready for a battery of tests…here is what is recommended.

‘Some men just can’t seem to grow old gracefully.’

By Natan Schleider, M.D.

January 14th 2019

I’ll be turning 50 soon and I can tell. I wake up 4 times nightly to pee )so my prostate is growing.’ My hair is thinning. Joints hurt. I shrunk from 5’9″ to 5’8″ based on my last physical. While I am researching anti-aging medicine, I am preparing for the slew of tests indicated at age 50.

In no particular order if you are 50 or older you should have these tests:

  • Screening colonoscopy for colon cancer every 10 years for those at normal risk of colon cancer. Alternate options which I am considering is Cologuard which is a stool based DNA non invasive test with 95% accuracy done every 3 years instead of colonoscopy (unless of course the test is positive in which case you need colonoscopy).
  • Screening Chset CT Scan (age 55 to 77) if you have ever smoked 30 packs of cigarettes in your life or have smoked any cigarettes in last 15 years.
  • Prostate testing in men annually–debatable, talk to your doctor.
  • Checking your weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar annually
  • Pap smear every 5 years in women
  • Mammogram annually for women
  • Annual skin exam by skin doctor
  • Make sure vaccines are up to date–these get confusing and probably warrant another blog/article–most common is tetanus booster with pertussis every 10 years

If anyone knows a good anti-aging doctor, let me know!

Natan Schleider, M.D.