Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

If Not Cold Medicine, Then What?

Doctors Ian Paul of Penn State and Danny Benjamin of Duke University say there are ways to treat a cold without using medicine.

Here are their recommendations for simple steps that may help, and surely won't hurt, a sick child:

- Always encourage a child by telling him or her that colds are usually short-lived, and that they will feel better in a few days.

- Products containing acetaminophen, such as Tylenol; or products containing ibuprofen, such as Motrin or Advil, can make a sick child more comfortable, when given in the proper dose.

- Saline nose drops or warm steam from a shower can help ease decongestion. Of decongestants and cough medicines on the market, Benjamin says, "There is not anything out there that is effective."

- Ensure the child drinks plenty of fluids.

- If the child is not getting better or is getting worse, reevaluate his or her condition.

- Both doctors emphasize the importance of reassuring the child by providing affection, comfort, and understanding. Benjamin says, "In our household we use a lot of tender loving care."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit