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What is the common cold?

The common cold is a viral infection, primarily affecting the upper respiratory system. Although associated with over 200 viruses, a cold is most frequently caused by Rhinoviruses.

What are the symptoms of the common cold?

Symptoms occur as early as 10 hours after viral inoculation. The first 48-72 hours are usually the most intense cold effects. Then, symptoms tend to improve. Depending on severity, they usually last 7 (possibly 10 days).

Day 1: You start with a tickle in your throat, stuffy nose turning to runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes
Days 2-3: You feel the worst: muscle aches, tiredness, possible fever
Days 4-6: You are fighting nasal congestion, thick yellow nasal discharge, mild cough, rarely headaches
Days 7-10: You have the “upper hand” & are feeling better

Early treatment with Zinc (such as zinc gluconicum 2X used in Cold FAid®) has been shown in many clinical studies to shorten a cold. Results vary, but it is reasonable for your 7-10 day cold to last only 4-5 days, with milder symptoms.

What helps with nighttime cough relief?

If a 'wet' or 'productive' cough continues to interrupt your sleep, call your medical provider or consult with a pharmacist. A 'wet' cough means that you are coughing up mucus or phlegm. Cough control may be achieved with Guaifenesin 600 mg 12 Hour Extended-Release, a cough expectorant used to thin & reduce mucus during a cold. Taken every 12 hours, it relieves post-nasal drip to minimize interruptions in your sleep from coughing. (20,21) Once your nighttime cough clears, stop taking this.

A popular alternative, combination drug is Guaifenesin 1200 mg / Dextromethorphan HBr 60 mg 12 hour Extended-Release tablets. Dextromethorphan inhibits the cough reflex in the brain & has a sedative effect. Due to recreational abuse & conflicting study results for use with an acute cough, it is not recommended here. (24-27)

You may try 2 teaspoons of honey taken before bedtime. Some studies suggest honey relieves irritation in the upper airways, increases salvation to hydrate the airway & calms cough sensory nerves in the throat. (23,24) Peppermint tea contains menthol which acts as a natural expectorant. (An expectorant hydrates mucus, thereby loosening or thinning it, so you can cough it up.) (46)

A persistent cough that continues through the daytime hours for a week needs medical attention. Go to your personal medical provider or a nearby student health or urgent care center.

What if I continue to have unimproved nasal congestion & sinus pressure after 48 hours use of the Decongestant PE in Cold FAid®?

If you find that the Decongestant PE used in Cold FAid® (Phenylephrine HCl) is not providing adequate relief for your nasal/sinus congestion after 48 hours of use, call your medical provider or consult with a pharmacist for an alternate decongestant. Pseudoephedrine HCl is a behind-the-counter REGULATED decongestant. It boasts greater absorption than Phenylephrine HCl. Pseudoephedrine HCl 120 mg Extended Release allows for 12-hour, long-acting effects.

You will need to show the pharmacist valid personal identification. Any recent purchase of this product would be reviewed online by the pharmacist through a national database called MethCheck. (This medication has been used to make crystal methamphetamines.)

Do not take Pseudoephedrine HCl Extended Release if you are still taking Phenylephrine HCl. Wait 4 hours after your last dose of Phenylephrine HCl before starting the Pseudoephedrine HCl Extended Release. This Extended Release decongestant (Pseudoephedrine HCl Extended Release) is taken at breakfast & every 12 hours. If needed, take up to 7 days since cold onset. If you experience no improvement, seek medical care. Take with a full glass of water. Swallow the tablet whole. Do not chew or crush this extended release tablet. Once your nasal congestion & sinus pressure clear, stop taking this.

Do I need an antibiotic when I have the common cold?

No. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, not viral infections (such as the common cold). However, if you develop complications, such as a bacterial infection while having a common cold, antibiotics are appropriate. Consult a medical provider if you show warning signs as described in the Warning Signs on the Cold FAid® app or here on the website in 'When to Seek Medical Care'. Go to your medical provider or a nearby student health /urgent care center.

How do you know if you have the common cold vs the flu? Or COVID-19?

The common cold, the flu & COVID-19 are all highly contagious viral infections. They are caused from different viruses though. Their symptoms can range from mild to more severe. In general, for the flu vs a cold, flu symptoms are worse than the common cold. Just like a cold, flu & COVID-19 symptoms include sore throat, runny nose, cough, body aches, headaches, & fatigue. Yet, the symptoms with flu & COVID-19 have the potential to be more extreme/severe. A fever is more common with the flu and COVID-19. Shortness of breath is a COVID-19 symptom. In general, the flu & COVID-19 are more likely to cause complications such as sinusitis, pneumonia, ear infections & potentially life-threatening conditions. Also, COVID-19 has some unique symptoms such as loss of taste and smell. Unfortunately, you can have COVID-19 and have no symptoms but spread the virus to others.

For more information regarding COVID-19, please refer to:



Cold FAid® is intended for use with a cold, not the flu or COVID-19. However, it may be difficult to know the difference with symptoms.

If you suspect you have the flu, please see your medical provider or visit a nearby student health/urgent care center. It is VERY important to get an annual flu (a.k.a. influenza) vaccination to decrease the chance of getting the flu or spreading it. Cold FAid® partners with Families Fighting Flu, a national, non-profit, advocacy organization. It is dedicated to protecting communities by increasing awareness about the dangers of influenza & the critical importance of annual flu vaccination for everyone age of 6 months & older. To learn more, visit www.familiesfightingflu.org.

If you suspect you have COVID-19, get tested and remain in quarantine until you have your test results. It is also essential to get the COVID-19 vaccination. This requires an initial shot with a booster 3 weeks later. Refer to CDC guidelines.(45)

Is Cold FAid® in the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) National Drug Code (NDC) Directory?

Yes. The Cold FAid® kit is NDC 72996-003-01. Find the listing at www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-approvals-and-databases/national-drug-code-directory . This does not denote FDA approval but is an electronic listing requirement. It is updated annually & with any periodic changes of the kit's over-the -counter drug components.

Are any of the over-the-counter medications in the Cold FAid® kit banned by the NCAA for use by college athletes?

The NCAA website advises athletes to check with an appropriate athletic staff member before using any substance. However, it specifies within the listing of drugs classified as stimulants (such as decongestants) that phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine are not banned. The zinc lozenges, antihistamine chlorpheniramine maleate, anti-inflammatory naproxen sodium, & cough expectorant guaifenesin are not on the list of banned medications. Go to NCAA.org for the most up-to-date listing & search "banned drugs": www.ncaa.org

How do the medication reminders work if I am traveling between time zones?

In this scenario when traveling to other time zones, do not rely on the medication reminders for 'take times'. Use the strategy chart to know WHAT to take WHEN. Follow the medication dose frequency, not the hour of the day as this will vary according to time zone.

For example, the antihistamine is to be taken every 4-6 hours. Consume one antihistamine tablet 4-6 hours from when you last took the medication. Take the time zone difference into consideration when calibrating hours since your last dose. If you are traveling NYC to Chicago & take an antihistamine at 8 am EST, take your next dose at 11 am - 1 pm CST (comparable to 12 noon -2 pm EST).