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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Preventing, treating common cold: Nothing to sneeze at — ScienceDaily

Preventing, treating common cold: Nothing to sneeze at — ScienceDaily.

 

From the 30 January article

 

What works?

Prevention

  • Clean hands: a review of 67 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) indicated that handwashing, a traditional public health approach, as well as alcohol disinfectants and gloves, is likely effective.
  • Zinc may work for children (and possibly adults) — at least 2 RCTs indicated that children who took 10 or 15 mg of zinc sulfate daily had lower rates of colds and fewer absences from school due to colds. The authors suggest that zinc may also work for adults.
  • Probiotics: there is some evidence that probiotics may help prevent colds, although the types and combinations of organisms varied in the studies as did the formulations (pills, liquids, etc.), making comparison difficult.

Treatment

  • Antihistamines combined with decongestants and/or pain medications appear to be somewhat or moderately effective in treating colds in older children — but not in children under age 5 — and adults.
  • Pain relievers: ibuprofen and acetaminophen help with pain and fever. Ibuprofen appears better for fever in children.
  • Nasal sprays: ipratropium, a drug used to treat allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, may alleviate runny nose when used in a nasal spray but has no effect on congestion.

Other approaches and treatments

According to the evidence, the benefits of frequently used remedies such as ginseng, (found in ColdFX), gargling, vapour rubs and homeopathy are unclear. Cough medicines show no benefit in children but may offer slight benefit in adults. Honey has a slight effect in relieving cough symptoms in children over age 1. Vitamin C and antibiotics show no benefit, and misused antibiotics can have associated harms.

The authors note that the evidence for preventing and treating colds is often of poor quality and has inconsistent results.

“Much more evidence now exists in this area, but many uncertainties remain regarding interventions to prevent and treat the common cold,” write the authors. “We focused on RCTs and systematic reviews and meta-analyses of RCTs for therapy, but few of the studies had a low risk of bias. However, many of the results were inconsistent and had small effects (e.g., vitamin C), which arouses suspicion that any noted benefit may represent bias rather than a true effect.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Canadian Medical Association JournalNote: Materials may be edited for content and length.

English: Original description: "This full...

English: Original description: “This full color 17″x22″ poster is planned for use in doctor’s offices, clinics, other healthcare facilities, and media outlets. It is intended to raise awareness about appropriate antibiotic use for upper respiratory infections in adults. It explains that antibiotics are not the best answer for a cold or flu.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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February 1, 2014 - Posted by | Consumer Health | , ,

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