NICE CKS on common cold


The common cold is the conventional term used to describe a mild, self-limiting viral upper respiratory tract infection characterised by nasal stuffiness and discharge, sneezing, sore throat, and cough.

Adults experience an average of two to three colds a year. Young children attending primary school or preschool have an average of five to eight colds a year. The most common complications are sinusitis, lower respiratory tract infections, and acute otitis media.

No known treatment improves the time course of infection and symptom relief and rest are the most appropriate management. Paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used if needed, but antibiotics and antihistamines are ineffective and may cause adverse effects.

This summary covers diagnosis, management, and prescribing information for adults, children, and young people.

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