Another cold? The best advice is still plenty of rest and fluids

November 29, 2000

ROCHESTER, MINN. -- Feel a cold coming on? Extra rest and plenty of warm fluids are still the best ways to cope with the common cold, according to the December issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter. While there's hope that something will be discovered to cure the cold, researchers haven't found it yet. Here's a look at the most common remedies:

Over-the-counter medications -- Antihistamines, cough medications, decongestants and pain relievers can help minimize symptoms, but they don't make the cold go away. Generally it's best to avoid combination medications that address multiple symptoms. Instead use individual products when they'll have the most benefit.

Vitamin C -- It has been suggested that Vitamin C strengthens resistance to viral infections and acts as a mild antihistamine that can decrease nasal secretions. However, studies haven't shown that Vitamin C has much impact on colds. But, there's probably no harm in taking a vitamin C supplement of up to 500 milligrams.

Echinacea -- This herb is thought to stimulate the immune system. Some studies have shown that it doesn't prevent colds but it can shorten them. Other studies question those results.

Talk with your doctor before you take this herb. It shouldn't be taken if you have some chronic health conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis or immune systems disorders.

Zinc -- In 1996, a study showed that taking zinc made cold symptoms disappear more quickly than was expected. More recent studies have had mixed results. Although more research is needed, taking zinc to treat a cold isn't likely to harm most people.

Mayo Clinic

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