Common colds come from the cold virus, which is an airborne virus that may be passed through coughing, sneezing or contact with an infected person. Signs and symptoms of the common cold range from coughing and sneezing to sore throat, watery eyes and congestion. While no cure for the common cold exists, you may minimize your chances of getting a cold and help your body fight the virus once you have it.
One of the most basic ways to avoid contacting the cold virus is through good hygiene. The best way to avoid getting sick or spreading illness is by washing your hands in warm, soapy water. You should always wash your hands after you’ve been around other sick people or after you’ve been places where cold viruses might be transmitted. Touching your mouth, nose or eyes after touching any surfaces where cold germs may linger should be avoided. If you have a cold, you can help stop its transmission by coughing and sneezing into your elbow and only touching surfaces after washing your hands.
The belief that vitamin C helps prevent and treat the common cold is popular; however, MayoClinic.com advises that after numerous studies, no significant benefits of vitamin C supplementation exist with regard to preventing colds. However, a 10 percent reduction is seen in the duration of colds when vitamin C is taken at the onset of the cold. Echinacea may help prevent or shorten the duration of colds. Zinc has performed well in studies with regard to reducing the symptoms associated with the common cold. According to a study reported in the “Journal of Infectious Disease,” treatment with zinc lozenges was associated with a reduction in the severity and duration of cold symptoms. This was most likely related to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of zinc.
If you get a cold, it will most likely need to run its course. You can, however, treat your symptoms and make yourself more comfortable. When you have a cold, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. Gargling with salt water will help soothe a sore throat, and keeping your room warm and moist will help soothe coughing and congestion. Try saline nasal drops to soothe nasal passages and lessen congestion.
- MayoClinic.com: Hand Washing: Do’s and Don’ts
- MayoClinic.com: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- “The Journal of Infectious Diseases”; Duration and Severity of Symptoms and Levels of Plasma Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist, Soluble Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor and Adhesion Molecules in Patients with Common Colds Treated with Zinc Acetate; Prasad AS, et al; March 2008
- MayoClinic.com: Common Cold