With the widespread concern about the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, many Americans might forget about another threat — the common cold.
While colds often prove less serious than the flu, they result in days of misery — not to mention missed work and school. And with today’s busy lifestyles and economic woes, no one can afford to get sick with a cold.
The common cold shares symptoms with the flu, including sore throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and stuffy or runny nose. But unlike the flu, colds do not usually cause fever, fatigue, body aches or dry cough. That’s because the cold and flu are caused by different viruses. While influenza viruses cause the flu, it’s the rhinovirus, which comes in more than 100 strains, that results in the stuffy, runny misery that is the common cold.
As with the flu, the best treatment against the cold lies in being proactive. Dr. Tim Tucker, Pharm.D., FAPhA, immediate past president of the American Pharmacists Association and owner, City Drug Company, says that, “Staying as healthy as possible proves to be the key. That means exercising, sleeping well and taking a daily multivitamin. Adequate nutrition can help the immune system fight off infection, so eat well and include plenty of nutrient-rich, balanced foods in your diet. Drinking water will help flush toxins out of the body, while also improving hydration.”
“Hygiene also plays a role, so take care to wash hands frequently, avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth, and frequently clean oft-touched surfaces, like keyboards and door knobs,” he says.
But if you already feel a cold coming on, all is not lost — some products can reduce the length of the common cold when taken at the first sign of symptoms. For example, Dr. Tucker explains that zinc products, such as Zicam Cold Remedy, can reduce the duration and severity of your cold if taken within 24 to 48 hours after the onset of symptoms.
Americans looking to protect their families should stock their medicine cabinets so they will be prepared to nip a cold in the bud before full-blown symptoms appear.