Wednesday, November 02, 2011
ROCHESTER, Minn. — What are the best remedies for a nasty cold? The November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers suggestions to ease the misery:
Fluids: Drink plenty of liquids. Water, juice, clear broth or warm water with lemon juice and honey can help loosen congestion.
Saltwater gargle: Gargling with warm salt water can relieve a sore or scratchy throat. Dissolve ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt into 8 ounces of water.
Nasal decongestants: Use of these products, such as Afrin or 4-Way, should be limited to no more than three consecutive days. Longer use can cause a "rebound effect" where symptoms worsen when the medication is stopped.
Saline nasal drops and sprays: These nonprescription products help combat stuffiness and congestion. Unlike nasal decongestants, there is no rebound effect.
Chicken soup: Yes, really. The soothing qualities of a steaming bowl of soup may be due to possible mucus-thinning and anti-inflammatory effects.
Don't bother asking a doctor for an antibiotic to treat a cold. Antibiotics destroy bacteria but don't work for cold viruses, and no convincing evidence has shown that zinc improves cold symptoms. Nasal sprays and gels with zinc have been associated with a permanent loss of smell.
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