Fighting a Cold   Leave a comment

Victoria Roberts
by C. Claiborne Ray

Q. What’s the best remedy for a cold?

A. “The best remedy for the cold remains effective prevention,” said Dr. Orli R. Etingin founder and medical director of the Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell.

The viruses that usually cause the common cold are spread by touching virus-laden skin or surfaces or by inhaling airborne drops of mucus.

“Current theory is that the cold is more common in winter months because there is less ventilation of common spaces, allowing for increased spread of infection,” Dr. Etingin said. “Holiday airplane travel is an almost certain way to increase one’s risk of a cold.”

If prevention fails, she said, symptoms can be treated. Congestion, low-grade fever and nasal discharge resulting from inflammation of the respiratory tract are most effectively addressed with rest and 60 to 80 ounces of fluids a day.

Remedies for a cold’s inflammation, fever and achiness include acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Steam and nasal spray can decrease discharge and keep the airways open. Over-the-counter decongestants can also ease congestion symptoms, and mucus-loosening agents like guaifenesin can help decrease coughing.

There are several “remedies” that do not work. “Since the common cold is viral, antibiotics are not useful or necessary,” Dr. Etinginsaid, and studies have shown that vitamin C, ginger and zinc are ineffective.

 

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