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Cold: What works and what doesn't

Cold: What works and what doesn't
Most people recover in about 7 to 10 days. However, the common cold can cause serious illness, such as bronchitis or pneumonia, in people who have a weakened immune system, asthma, or respiratory conditions.

Cold remedies that work

  • Stay hydrated . Water, juices, clear broth, or warm water with lemon and honey help loosen congestion and prevent dehydration. Avoid alcohol, coffee, and caffeinated sodas, which can worsen dehydration.
  • Rest . The body needs to heal.
  • Relieves sore throat. A salt water gargle, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt dissolved in an 8-ounce (240 milliliters) glass of water, may temporarily relieve a sore or itchy throat. Children under 6 years old are unlikely to be able to gargle properly. You can also try ice chips, sore throat sprays, lozenges, or hard candies. Be careful when giving pills or hard candies to children because they can choke. Do not give pills or hard candy to children under 6 years old.
  • Fights blockage. Over-the-counter saline nasal sprays and drops can help relieve stuffiness and congestion. In babies, experts recommend applying several drops of saline solution to one nostril, then gently suctioning that nostril with a bulb syringe. To do this, squeeze the bulb bulb, gently place the tip of the bulb into your nostril about 1/4 to 1/2 inch (about 6 to 12 millimeters), and release the bulb little by little. Saline nasal sprays can be used in older children.
  • Alleviate the pain. In the case of children under 6 months, administer only paracetamol. For children older than 6 months, you can use paracetamol or ibuprofen. Ask your child's doctor what the correct dosage is for your child's age and weight. Adults can take acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), or aspirin. Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Although aspirin is approved for use in children over 3 years of age, children and adolescents recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease, in these children.
  • Take sips of hot liquids. Incorporating warm liquids, such as chicken soup, tea, or hot apple juice, is an anti-cold remedy used in many cultures and may have a relaxing effect and relieve congestion by increasing the flow of mucus.
  • Adds moisture to the air. A cool mist vaporizer or humidifier can add humidity to your home, which could help loosen congestion. Change the water daily, and clean the unit according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Try over-the-counter cough and flu medications. For adults and children over 5 years old, over-the-counter decongestants, antihistamines, and pain relievers may relieve symptoms. However, they won't prevent a cold or shorten its duration, and most have some side effects. Experts agree that they should not be given to young children. Excessive or inappropriate use of these medications can cause serious harm. Talk to your child's doctor before giving him or her medications. Take medications only as directed. Some cold medicines contain multiple ingredients, such as a decongestant plus a pain reliever, so read the labels of the cold medicines you take to make sure you don't take too much of any one medicine.

Cold remedies that don't work

  • Antibiotics. These medications attack bacteria, but do not work against cold viruses. Avoid asking your doctor for antibiotics to treat a cold or using old antibiotics you have on hand. You won't get better any faster, and improper use of antibiotics contributes to serious problems with the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Over-the-counter cold and cough medicines for young children . Over-the-counter cold and cough medicines can cause serious side effects and even be life-threatening for children. Talk to your child's doctor before giving him or her medications.

Cold Remedies with Conflicting Evidence

  • Vitamin C – It seems that for the most part taking vitamin C won't help the average person prevent a cold. However, taking vitamin C before cold symptoms appear may shorten the duration of symptoms. Vitamin C may provide benefits for people at high risk for colds due to frequent exposure, for example, children who attend group child care during the winter.
  • Echinacea . Results from studies on whether echinacea prevents or shortens the cold are mixed. Some studies show no benefits. Others show a slight reduction in the severity and duration of cold symptoms when taken during the early stages of a cold. It is possible that the different types of echinacea used in different studies may have contributed to the varied results. It appears that echinacea is most effective if you take it when you notice cold symptoms and continue taking it for seven to 10 days. It appears to be safe for healthy adults, but it can interact with many medications. Consult your doctor before taking echinacea or any other supplement.
  • Zinc. Zinc has been talked about for colds since a 1984 study showed that zinc supplements prevented people from getting sick. Since then, research has had mixed results about zinc and colds. Some studies show that zinc lozenges or syrup reduce the duration of a cold by one day, especially when taken within 24 hours of the first signs and symptoms of a cold. Zinc also has potentially harmful side effects. Talk to your doctor before considering taking zinc to prevent or reduce the duration of colds.

How to protect yourself

Infected people can spread the viruses that cause colds to others through the air and close personal contact. Another way you can become infected is through contact with the feces or respiratory secretions of an infected person. This can happen when you shake hands with someone who has a cold or when you touch a surface that has respiratory viruses on it, such as a door handle, and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.

You can help reduce your risk of getting a cold by:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water. Wash them for 20 seconds and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Viruses that cause colds can live on your hands; Therefore, washing them regularly can help protect you from getting sick.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if you have not washed your hands. Viruses that cause colds can enter your body this way and make you sick.
  • Stay away from people who are sick. Sick people can spread the viruses that cause the common cold through close contact with other people.
  • Practice good hygiene when coughing and sneezing: always use a tissue or the top of your sleeve to completely cover your mouth and nose.

How to protect others

If you have a cold, follow these tips to help prevent spreading it to others:

  • Stay home while you are sick, and do not send children to school or daycare while they are sick.
  • Avoid close contact with other people, such as hugging, kissing, or holding hands.
  • Stay away from others before coughing or sneezing.
  • When you cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue and throw it in the trash, or completely cover your nose and mouth with the top of your sleeve.
  • Wash your hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys and door handles.

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