Taking megadoses of Vitamin C may reduce the duration of the common cold. "The effectiveness of vitamin C.." study found that reported flu and cold symptoms in the test group decreased 85% compared with the control group after the administration of megadose Vitamin C. Those in the control population reporting symptoms were treated with pain relievers and decongestants, whereas those in the test population reporting symptoms were treated with hourly doses of 1,000 mg of Vitamin C for the first 6 hours and then 3 times daily thereafter. Too high a dose of Vitamin C may cause diarrhea, if that happens, reduce the dose.

Low doses of Vitamin C have little or no effect. To cure a cold, the dosage should be at least as much as in "The effectiveness of vitamin C.." study.

Zinc gluconate glycine or zinc acetate zinc may reduce the duration of the common cold. A specific cold preventative using zinc is the Cold-Eeze lozenge. Cold-Eeze is the only family of cold prevention products that contains zinc gluconate glycine a formula that in several double blind placebo studies was shown to reduce the duration of a cold by 42 percent. These lozenges are non-sedating and are recommended every three to four hours at the first sign of cold symptoms. In order to get the full zinc absorption possible the lozenges should not be chewed and citrus fruits or juices should not be eaten half an hour before or after taking a lozenge. Cold Eeze should not be eaten on an empty stomach. These lozenges are available to everyone at the supermarket, are safe, and taste good too! Taking high doses of zinc for too long can cause other problems, like copper deficiency, so if the cold is not cured within five days or whatever the manufacturer's recommendation whichever comes first, switch to another medicine like megadoses of Vitamin C.

Zinc lozenges which have formulations that inactivated the zinc are ineffective.

Vitamin C may reduce the absorbtion of zinc from zinc lozenges if taken half an hour before or after taking a lozenge. So to cure the common cold try zinc lozenges or megadoses of Vitamin C, not both at the same time. If you really want to try both together, you could try taking a zinc lozenge, then two hours later two grams of Vitamin C, and keep alternating with a separation of at least two hours until the cold is cured.

An extract of Pelargonium sidoides (EPs) may reduce the duration of the common cold. A randomized, placebo controlled study was undertaken to assess the efficacy of a liquid extract of Pelargonium sidoides (EPs) for the treatment of the common cold. The study included 103 adult patients (18–55 years old) with at least 2 major and 1 minor or with 1 major and 3 minor cold symptoms for 24 to 48 hours. Major cold symptoms included nasal discharge and sore throat; minor symptoms included nasal congestion, sneezing, scratchy throat, hoarseness, cough, headache, muscle aches, and fever. The primary outcome measure was the Sum of Symptom Intensity Differences (SSID) of the Cold Intensity Score (CIS) from day 1 to day 5. Secondary outcomes included activity level, overall well-being, changes of other cold-related symptoms, ability to work, health-related quality of life, time until onset of treatment effect, treatment outcome, and satisfaction with treatment.

From baseline to day 5, the mean SSID improved by 14.6 points in the EPs group compared with 7.6 points in the placebo group. The mean CIS decreased by 10.4 points and 5.6 points in the EPs and placebo groups, respectively. After 10 days, 78.8% of the EPs group was clinically cured compared with 31.4% in the placebo group. The mean duration of inability to work was significantly lower in the EPs group (6.9 days) compared with the placebo group (8.2 days).

A proprietary extract from the roots of the Pelargonium sidoides plant (EPs 7630) has been the subject of 20 clinical studies on upper respiratory infections involving more than 9,000 patients, including 3,900 children. In reviewing the research on Pelargonium sidoides for the common cold, reviewers in the Journal of Family Practice concluded, “In the final analysis, we think that these findings justify recommending this (Pelargonium sidoides) to our patients…Our conclusion is that patients could be advised to purchase the medication to have on hand at home at the start of the cold season…”

Taking Vitamin D may reduce the chance of getting a cold, and there is speculation that a 5,000 IU/day dose of Vitamin D may reduce the duration of an existing cold.


Getting plenty of rest, and gargling with warm salt water, are reasonable conservative measures.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, relieve discomfort or pain caused by the common cold. Also simple analgesics and antipyretics such as acetaminophen/paracetamol help alleviate symptoms. Evidence does not show that cough medicines are any more effective than simple analgesics and they are not recommended for use in children due to a lack of evidence supporting effectiveness and the potential for harm. Canada in 2009 restricted the use of over-the-counter cough and cold medication in children 6 years and under due to concerns regarding risks and unproven benefits. The misuse of dextromethorphan (an over-the-counter cough medicine) has lead to its ban in a number of countries.

In adults the symptoms of a runny nose can be reduced by first generation antihistamines; however, they are associated with adverse effects such as drowsiness. Other decongestants such as pseudoephedrine are also effective in this population. Ipratropium nasal spray may reduce the symptoms of a runny nose but there is little effect on stuffiness. Second-generation antihistamines however do not appear to be effective.

Due to lack of studies, it is not known whether increased fluid intake improves symptoms or shortens respiratory illness, and a similar lack of data exists for the use of heated humidified air. One study has found chest vapor rub to be effective at providing some symptomatic relief of nocturnal cough, congestion, and sleep difficulty.


Taking Vitamin D may reduce the chance of getting a cold. The risk of the common cold and influenza was studied in postmenopausal African-American women living in New York. Women taking 2,000 international units (IU) (50 mcg)/day of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) had a 90% reduction in either disorder. Those taking 800 IU (20 mcg)/day had a 60% reduction.

There is a recommendation that the optimal Vitamin D dosage for adults is around 5,000 IU/day.

Taking 15 mg of zinc for men / 12 mg of zinc for women, which is slightly more than the typical zinc dietary intake, may reduce the chance of getting the common cold.

A daily multi-vitamin, exercise and proper diet may also aid in prevention.

Physical measures to prevent the spread of cold viruses include primarily hand washing and face masks; in the health care environment, gowns and disposable gloves are also used. Efforts such as quarantine are not possible as the disease is so widespread and symptoms are non-specific. Vaccination has proved difficult as there are so many viruses involved and they change rapidly. Creation of a broadly effective vaccine is thus highly improbable.

Regular hand washing appears to be effective at reducing the transmission of cold viruses especially among children. Whether the addition of antivirals or antibacterials to normal hand washing provides greater benefit is unknown. Wearing face masks when around people who are infected may be beneficial; however, there is insufficient evidence for maintaining a greater social distance.

There is speculation that the chance of getting a cold may be reduced by taking Airborne, or by taking Emergen-C, however, no study was found reporting the effectiveness of either product.


Evidence about the usefulness of echinacea is inconsistent. The "Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold" review found that none of the three echinacea prevention trials showed an effect over placebo. Nine out of sixteen treatment trials reported a significant effect an effect over placebo. That review found that echinacea preparations tested in clinical trials differ greatly. There is some evidence that preparations based on the aerial parts of Echinacea purpurea might be effective for the early treatment of colds in adults. Another review, the "Evaluation of echinacea for the prevention and treatment of the common cold", found that Echinacea decreased the odds of developing the common cold by 58% and the duration of a cold by 1.4 days.

According to the "Honey for acute cough.." study, there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against honey. According to the "Saline nasal irrigation.." study, there is no significant evidence to recommend nasal irrigation, and minor discomfort was not uncommon and 40% of babies did not tolerate nasal saline drops. The chance of getting a cold may be reduced with humidifiers.

Alternative symptom alleviation techniques for the common cold include hot food, and mustard plaster.


Antibiotics have no effect against viral infections and thus have no effect against the viruses that cause the common cold. Due to their side effects they cause overall harm; however, they are still frequently prescribed. Some of the reasons that antibiotics are so commonly prescribed include: people's expectations for them, physicians' desire to do something, and the difficulty in excluding complications that may be amenable to antibiotics.


A number of antivirals have been tested for effectiveness in the common cold; however as of 2009 none have been both found effective and licensed for use. There are ongoing trials of the anti-viral drug pleconaril which shows promise against picornaviruses as well as trials of BTA-798. The oral form of pleconaril had safety issues and an aerosol form is being studied.

Researchers from University of Maryland, College Park and University of Wisconsin–Madison have mapped the genome for all known virus strains that cause the common cold.


The information presented is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.

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