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NSAIDs (OTC) for treatment of common cold in Adults with cold

  • -  Tooltip icon - Capsule icon


    Bottom Line

  • Treatment with NSAIDs (e.g. Aspirin, Ibuprofen). 9 valid studies conducted, with 1,069 individuals. Reduces fever, pain and sneezing (but does not seem to reduce cough and runny nose) . Side effects seem minor, but long periods of usage may increase chances to heart attacks and strokes.

    • -  Evidence icon EVIDENCE | REASONABLY TESTED
    • -  Effectiveness icon EFFECTIVENESS | EFFECTIVE for fever, pains and sneezing
    • -  Safety Circle icon SAFETY | DANGEROUS


Consider this treatment with caution, and only when sneezing:

It reliefs discomfort caused by a cold (fever, pain). Do not expect it to reduce cough and runny nose, or to speed up healing. Side effects seem minor, when taken for a short period (2-3 days), but are dangerous to some adults.

Doctors Say That -  Tooltip icon

Using this treatment can cause severe damage, especially to adults with gastric-intestinal infections or hidden kidney disease, which are quite common. Look for safer alternatives.

About NSAIDs (OTC)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (for example: Aspirin, Ibuprofen and Naproxen)

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    Target Population:

    Adults with cold, 16 to 65 years old

  • - Dosage icon


    Varies according to drug, age and weight. Usually every 4-6 hours for adults.

  • - Goal icon


    Treatment of Common Cold symptoms

Research Summary

  • - Green Pages icon Reasonably tested
  • 9 Clinical Studies
  • 1,069 - Tooltip icon Adults Tested
  • Effective
  • Benefits:

    Reduces fever, pain (headache, ear pain, and muscle and joint pain) and sneezing. Does not seem to improve cough and runny nose. Does not effect the duration of Common Cold occurrences.

  • - Safety icon Dangerous
  • Risks:

    Minor reported side effects include stomach and intestinal discomfort , rash and swelling. Major side effects include stomach ulcers and kidney failure. Long periods of usage of NSAIDs other then Aspirin may increase risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

Common Cold Overview

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    Medical problem:

    Common Cold (symptoms caused by viral infection of the upper respiratory system).

  • - Sumptoms icon

    Symptoms and signs:

    Cough, general discomfort, headache, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, stuffy nose and weakness.

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    Bacterial infections: lung infection, middle ear infection, strep throat, sinus infection.

Additional Information


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a drug class that groups together drugs that reduce pain, decrease fever, and, in higher doses, decrease inflammation. Side effects include an increased risk of stomach ulcers and heart attacks. The term nonsteroidal distinguishes these drugs from steroids, which, among a broad range of other effects, have a similar eicosanoid-depressing, anti-inflammatory action. First used in 1960, the term served to distance these medications from steroids. The most prominent members of this group of drugs are aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, all available over the counter in most countries. (source)

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