Antibiotics are useful in many situations, but they are not recommended for the common cold. A new study confirms this, noting that even though vitamin C and antibiotics had been used in the past to treat colds, they are generally ineffective. Even if doctors are willing to prescribe antibiotics for colds, patients shouldn’t push for them.
When the upper respiratory tract becomes infected and inflamed, it creates annoying side effects. The reaction is a result of the body’s poorly functioning immune system. Symptoms of the common cold can vary from person to person and season to season. They most often include a headache, running nose, stuffy nose, congestion, coughing, sore throat, fever and sneezing. These may accompany achy muscles, dehydration, lack of energy and loss of appetite.
The recent study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Researchers studied 67 randomized controlled trials to find the best ways to treat the common cold. What they found was somewhat surprising because vitamin C and antibiotics, despite being used to treat colds in the past, were not recommended.
There’s no cure for the common cold. One thing that the study results point to is prevention. It’s easier to prevent a cold that to treat it. The study shows that the best methods of preventing a cold are alcoholic disinfectants, frequent hand-washing and increasing consumption of probiotics and zinc. Often, the symptoms can still be reduced by several days if the protocol is acted on as soon as patients start to feel a cold coming on.
People can get several colds per year and children are capable of having as many as 10-12. Sufferers can expect the symptoms to last up to 10 days.
There is still some advice for those suffering through a full-blown cold, however. Antihistamines, decongestants, pain relievers and nasal spray can reduce the discomfort associated with a cold and allow the user to return to daily activities sooner.
Home remedies and herbal supplements can also prevent or relieve symptoms. Honey, ginseng and vapor rubs are known to comfort annoying cough and congestion. It becomes difficult to breathe, hard to get an adequate amount of rest and can be debilitating when symptoms are at their height.
Doctor appointments and taking sick days from work contribute to the $40 billion a year spent on health care related to colds. Any cold lasting more than 10 days needs added attention, as it may be a sign of another condition. Consulting a physician is recommended if strep throat, sinusitis, bronchitis or allergies are suspected.
While it is tempting to take an antibiotic, they don’t work on colds because colds are viruses. They only work on bacterial infections. In addition to generally being ineffective and not being recommended for cold, antibiotics can pose a health risk. Patients may suffer an allergic reaction to the treatment. Taking too many rounds of an antibiotic in a short period of time can also create a resistance issue. Though the CDC has been warning the public for years about using antibiotics to treat colds, this study backs up their statement and confirms that they are ineffective.
By Tracy Rose