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Preventing Colds: What Works, What Doesn’t

By David Highfield
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(Photo credit: KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images)

CBS Pittsburgh (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSPittsburgh.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSPittsburgh.com/Health

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Science writer Jennifer Ackerman’s new book about the common cold may surprise you.

In her book, “Ah-Choo: The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold,” she lists which remedies and prevention tips actually work and which ones don’t as well as some other interesting information.

Kissing: You may think you’re likely to catch a cold if you kiss someone with a cold, but Ackerman says, “You are more at risk from a handshake than you are from a kiss.”

Don’t Touch Your Face!: She says most common cold viruses don’t enter the body through the mouth. They enter through the nose and eyes which is why she says one of the most important things you can do to prevent getting a cold is not to touch your face! “Studies show that we really touch our faces hundreds of times a day,” Ackerman says.

New Information On Other Prevention Tips: She says washing your hands is very important, but she says anti-bacterial soap isn’t necessary and that regular soap and water is just fine. She also says try to avoid chronic stress and getting enough sleep is critical. Ackerman says people who sleep fewer than seven hours a night are three times more likely to catch a cold.

Vitamin C: “Unfortunately when it comes to preventing or curing the cold, taking daily Vitamin C, gets about a D!” Ackerman says, but she adds that Vitamin C may help dry up nasal secretions once you have a cold.

Echinacea: She says according to the latest reviews, taking it regularly really won’t prevent you from catching a cold.


Salt Water Gargle:
Ackerman says this can actually work to relieve a sore throat temporarily by reducing swelling.

Zinc Lozenges: “Studies show it really doesn’t work,” Ackerman says. “The most consistent effect shown by high quality studies is just a bitter medicinal taste in the mouth.”

“Flushing” the Cold Away: She says it’s a myth that if you drink enough water you can flush a cold out of your system. However, she says drinking normal amounts of clear fluids can help loosen congestion and prevent dehydration.

Chicken Soup: You maybe surprised at Ackerman’s evaluation. “As it turns out, there actually may be some medicinal value to chicken soup.” She says it has been shown to suppress inflammation in a lab, but no clinical trials have ever been done. She believes at the very least, the warm broth does soothe you.

To learn more about Jennifer Ackerman, visit her website, JenniferAckerman.net.

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