TreatmentDosingDuration of treatmentStudy findings
Acetaminophen500 to 1,000 mgSingle doseCochrane review without data pooling of 4 low- to moderate-quality trials with outcome assessment at 3 to 6 hours found improvement in nasal obstruction and rhinorrhea but not in other symptoms; no numeric data provided22
Antihistamine plus decongestantVariesVariableCochrane review of 12 trials, including 6 placebo controlled with pooled data, found odds ratio of treatment failure = 0.27 (95% CI, 0.15 to 0.50); number needed to treat = 4, but 41% favorable response in placebo group23
Inhaled ipratropium (Atrovent)4 20-g puffs 4 times per day3 weeksOne small, randomized, double-blind crossover trial (N = 14) found significant reduction in persistent cough24
Intranasal oxymetazoline2 sprays (0.05%) per nostril 1 or 2 times per dayUp to 10 daysCochrane review of 15 trials (N = 1,838) found no improvement in nasal congestion with single use, but small improvement vs. placebo after multiple doses (SMD = 0.49; 95% CI, 0.07 to 0.92)25
Lactobacillus casei (for older adults)200 g per day of fermented dairy product containing L. casei3 monthsRCT of 1,072 older adults found significant improvement in duration of colds and in cumulative days with colds when taken daily26
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugsVariesVaries from single dose to 7 daysCochrane review of 9 moderate-quality RCTs (N = 1,069) found no effect on total symptom score or cough, but improved sneezing (SMD = −0.44; 95% CI, −0.75 to −0.12), headache (SMD = −0.65; 95% CI, −1.11 to −0.19), and ear, muscle, and joint pain (SMD = −0.40; 95% CI, −0.77 to −0.03) vs. placebo27
Zinc acetate or gluconateVaries; typically 80 to 92 mg per dayStart within 3 days of symptom onset and continue as long as symptoms persist3 systematic reviews and meta-analyses found similar improvement in symptom duration (by about one-third) and mixed conclusions on symptom severity 2830