No one likes having a cold, but with winter soon to be upon us, it’s inevitable that some of will suffer during this festive season. You may have to go to the doctor or take time off work. You may feel really weak, tired, and congested. The problem is, because it’s a virus, there is no cure; you simply have to ride it out. Common colds cost the U.S. around 40 billion dollars per year in regards to pharmaceuticals, supplements, and medical care. Surely there has to be a more effective way of preventing this common ailment? We ask Dr Serge A. Kozak (FRACGP MBBS BMedSc DCH) from Rebotec.
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How to prevent colds from developing?
To increase your chance of keeping colds at bay this winter, consider the following:
- Don’t touch your face: Viruses are so easily spread and it only takes the smallest particle to make you sick.
- Stay at home: Don’t inflict your cold on others. If you are sick, simply stay at home and recover. If you really can’t get the time off work, keep your distance from others, always sneeze into a tissue, and was your hands regularly to avoid spreading the virus.
- Wash your hands often: Hand-washing is an extremely effective way to prevent the spreading of colds, but it must be done correctly. The best method is to soap up, lather, and scrub. Then simply rinse, dry and use the towel or your sleeve to open the door, leaving all the nasty germs behind.
There have been lots of studies on various other potential preventatives, but evidence is weak. Some studies suggest the likes of zinc and probiotics will help, while others support the use of ginseng, Echinacea, and vitamins C and D. But, it’s yet to be confirmed if any of these are beneficial for warding off the common cold.
How to treat a cold once you have one?
Natural remedies: Sometimes no matter what you do, you just can’t avoid getting a cold. In that case, you’ll probably want to find an effective treatment rather fast. If you’re looking for an all-natural solution then honey has been proven to help with coughs relating to colds, particularly in young children. Zinc lozenges have also been reported to shorten the duration of a cold by a couple of days or so, but generally only in adults.
Traditional treatments: Both over-the-counter decongestants such as phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine have been proven to alleviate cold symptoms, as has decongestant-antihistamine combos. Prescription cough medicines often contain codeine or hydrocodone which help numb the pain and can help patients sleep too. If you have a runny nose you could try nasal ipratropium, which is sometimes effective, but it won’t work for congestion. Many people often use menthol or camphor based rubs too. Although it’s very scarcely been studied, when it has, the results were pretty good and showed significant improvement of symptoms and quality of sleep in those children who used it.