DON’T RELY ON VITAMIN C
In a 2013 review of 29 separate trials, regular vitamin C supplements failed to reduce cold incidences across the board. Huge doses to ease symptoms had small effects in some but not all studies.
Zinc, on the other hand, may reduce symptoms. According to a post by Brent A. Bauer, MD, on mayoclinic.org, recent studies have shown that zinc lozenges or syrup can reduce the length of a cold by one day, especially if taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. ‘Zinc is necessary for the immune system to perform, so yes, you can definitely up the dose during the onset of a cold,’ says Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS. Of course, you should check with your doctor first to make sure it won’t interfere with any of your medications.
WASH YOUR HANDS A LOT
The cold virus can survive up to 24 hours or longer outside the human body, so give your hands a good scrubbing after touching that doorknob or kitchen faucet at work. In fact, a small 2011 study showed that people infected with rhinovirus, the most common cause of colds, contaminated 41 percent of the surfaces in their homes—including doorknobs, TV remotes, and faucets. An hour after touching those infected surfaces, the fingertips of nearly 25 percent of people still tested positive for a cold virus.
GARGLE, GARGLE, GARGLE
Grandma was right: Gargling can help, maybe even as a preventative. In a single study from Japan, some volunteers were asked to regularly gargle with water while others were not. After 60 days, the gargling group had a nearly 40 percent decrease in colds compared with the control group. To soothe a sore throat, the Mayo Clinic advises gargling with one quarter to one half of a teaspoon of salt mixed with eight ounces of warm water. (The salt will draw out excess fluids from your body.)