Cold Remedies: Myth vs. Fact

There may not be a cure for the common cold, but there some things you can do to minimize symptoms. The Mayo Clinic has debunked some familiar myths about what helps - and what doesn't.


    Hot Tea

    FACT: Water, tea and other liquids can help treat a cold. Drinking lots of fluids helps prevent dehydration, and warm water with lemon and honey and can help loosen congestion. Drinking green tea is a good idea as it is high in antioxidants, which are helpful in the prevention of cancer and heart disease.

    Assorted Pills

    MYTH: Antibiotics can cure a cold. These drugs will help cure an infection by killing bacteria, but will not help with a cold. And improper use can result in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

    over the counter

    MYTH: Over-the-counter meds are safe for young children According to the Mayo Clinic, children under the age of 2 should not take OTC medications. The FDA is evaluating the safety for older children.The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that parents discuss with their doctor other treatment options such as nasal sprays or drops.

    Chicken Soup

    FACT: There's something to be said for grandma's old chicken soup remedy. Chicken soup soothes your body with its anti-inflammatory and mucous-thinning effects. The soup, which also can help prevent dehydration, acts as an anti-inflammatory by decreasing the movement of certain cells in the immune system.
    2006 Uyen Le

    Get More Vitamin C

    MYTH: Vitamin C will help cure your cold. Taking in vitamin C won’t help the average person treat a cold that's already made a home in your body. But taking it before the onset of symptoms may shorten the duration of your cold.


    FACT: Taking zinc may help reduce the duration and symptoms of the common cold. According to comprehensive analysis of clinical trial data, zinc has been proven to speed up the time it takes your body to fight off a cold by preventing rhinovirus, the common cold virus, from multiplying and lodging in the throat and nose. However, the study did not determine the most effective formula, dosage or duration of treatment as researchers used different zinc lozenges and preparations for different periods of time.  The study also proved that taking zinc on a regular basis could reduce the number of colds you get in a given year. Check with your doctor before adding zinc to your diet.


    FACT: Humidity plays a roll in helping ease a cold. Dry air lessens the moisture in the mucous membrane, which is why colds are more common in the winter season. Humidifiers can help by adding moisture to the air. Moisture is important in keeping the mucous membranes from drying up and causing a stuffy nose or scratchy throat. Although humidifiers do add moisture, it’s important to keep them clean to avoid mold and other bacteria from forming.
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