NMA: Nonprescription Medicines Academy

NSAIDs Recommended for Relieving Pain or Discomfort Caused By the Common Cold

August 31st, 2009

NSAIDs improve most analgesia-related symptoms caused by the common cold, but there is no clear evidence that they relieve respiratory symptoms such as cough and nasal discharge, according to a recent Cochrane systematic review.

The review included a total of nine randomized, controlled trials that evaluated treatment of the common cold with NSAIDs in 1,064 adults and children. The trials compared NSAID treatment with placebo or evaluated the effects of different NSAIDs.

In a pooled analysis, NSAIDs were found to produce significant benefits for outcomes related to analgesic effects (headache, ear pain, and muscle and joint pain). Malaise showed a borderline benefit; throat irritation was not improved. Chills showed mixed results. Scores for cough and nasal discharge were not improved, but the sneezing score improved significantly. There was no evidence of increased frequency of adverse effects in the NSAID treatment groups.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jul 8;(3):CD006362.

Author: Cynthia Knapp Dlugosz, BPharm