By Dr. Sarah Khan for DietsInReview.com
Fall and winter are the time of year when people seem to be more susceptible to colds. It might be the change in temperature or it may be all the bugs that your kids are bringing home from school. Regardless of feeling under the weather, most of us cannot drop everything we are doing to rest and recuperate like we should. The average cold can take seven days to almost two weeks to recover from, but there is hope. There are many over-the-counter products and herbal supplements that may shorten the duration of a cold and help you get back to feeling a hundred percent.
Echinacea is an herbal supplement that is often used to prevent a cold or shorten the time you have one once it starts. It is believed that echinacea works by reducing inflammation to help deal with cold symptoms. The most common side effects from echinacea supplements are fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and muscle aches, but I do, however, think that many of these symptoms could be caused by the cold itself. If you are allergic to certain flowers like mums, ragweed or marigolds you may become allergic to echinacea.
Zinc is a metal found in meats, seafood, nuts and whole grains. Zinc is also available in tablet form, but the lozenge product known as Cold-Eeze or Zicam is the only formulation effective in shortening the length of a cold. I always remind my patients to make sure they eat something before they use the lozenges because they can become nauseous if eaten on an empty stomach. There is also a nasal spray not effective at preventing the common cold and some people have lost their sense of smell. The typical dosage is one lozenge every 2 hours while awake to help shorten a cold.
Vitamin C is found in fruits like oranges and is used to treat or prevent the common cold. The typical dosage is one to three grams everyday. The average amount of time it may shorten the cold is 1-1.5 days. If you decide to get your vitamin C from food instead of using a supplement, a fresh orange is the way to go. Drinking lots of water while taking vitamin C is very important to prevent the possibility of kidney stones. Vitamin C does interact with a lot of prescription medications like warfarin and Niaspan so make sure to let your pharmacist or doctor if you decide to take this when you get a cold.
We would all like to avoid getting sick if at all possible. Remember what your mama taught you. Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough or cough into your elbow. Get your flu shot. Make sure to get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water. Nobody wants to go to the hospital and get IV fluids. As hard as it may be, sometimes remember to take care of yourself.