-- Question: Are there any prescription medicines to treat my cold, and do they have side effects?
Answer: In general, your cold is going to get better with normal self care. And that involves the things your mother told you to do -- fluids, rest, and taking care of yourself. The medicines that can help the symptoms of colds are those that relieve the pain and can reduce the fever such as ibuprofen or aspirin or Tylenol. And for some people there can be some additional benefit from taking medications for congestion or cough. And these include antihistamine and decongestant combinations.
Some of them are available by prescription but many are available over the counter and are probably every bit as effective.
A few things that you should know before using them however, they are not recommended at all for children under two, and generally best to avoid these kinds of medicines for the symptoms of cold and flu in kids under five.
In older children and adults, they can cause drowsiness, they can cause dry mouth, and some of them can raise your blood pressure. People who are on high blood pressure medicines, or who have high blood pressure should talk to their doctor about what kinds of decongestants they want to use. But the best treatment really is time, fluids and rest.