The common cold primarily affects the upper respiratory system. It can be caused by a variety of 200 different viruses, which are highly contagious and are spread through sneezing, coughing or touching. Symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, and muscle aches. In most cases symptoms resolve spontaneously within 7 to 10 days, with some symptoms lasting up to three weeks.
Many patients have the erroneous idea that a cold that last longer than 3 or 4 days warrants antibiotics. However, antibiotics do not address the cold virus, as viruses hide and reproduce inside cells. Prescribing antibiotics for the common cold is therefore not effective. Taking antibiotics when they are not warranted attributes to the growing problem of antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.
A bacterial super-infection is a rare complication that can develop after an upper respiratory tract infection. In this case higher fever and increasing malaise might point to the presence of a bacterial pneumonia, sinusitis or otitis media.
Treating viral symptoms early (within the first hours to maximum the first 2 days) has a chance of blocking the virus before it attaches and invades the cells of the respiratory tract and can therefore halt the infection. (The prescription drug Tamiflu works that way.)
There is growing evidence that higher levels of Vitamin D reduce the risk of catching the common cold and shorten its duration.
Here are some immune boosting remedies:
- Vitamin C supplementation reduces the duration of the common cold. Intravenous vitamin C has strong antiviral properties while at the same time stimulating the immune system
- Oregano (also clove and thyme) oil has antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
- Beta Glucans work as "biological response modifiers" because of their ability to activate various parts of the immune system
- Elderberry extracts have been found to fight off viruses.
- Garlic has antiviral and antimicrobial properties and might also help to prevent colds.
- Research confirms the value of zinc. However, do not take zinc-based nasal sprays, as they can impair your sense of smell, possibly for good.