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Common Cold

Is there a cure for the common cold?

It's an unfortunate fact of modern medicine: in the battle against viruses, viruses win. And fewer foes are more pesky and difficult to conquer than the common cold.

There is no cure for the common cold because it can be caused by as many as 250 different viruses. In the United States, the common cold accounts for almost 100 million doctor visits every year. Unfortunately, the best any doctor can do is offer relief from the symptoms.

What is the common cold?

"The common cold" is the name given to a set of symptoms resulting from infection with any one of numerous cold viruses. The cold virus enters the body through physical contact or through the inhalation of droplets from coughs and sneezes. After the virus enters the body, it begins to reproduce within 8 to 12 hours. Symptoms usually appear within 10 to 12 hours and reach their peak after 36 to 72 hours. The common cold can last anywhere from 3 to 10 days.

Common Cold Symptoms

Cold symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Low-grade fever

Treatment for the Common Cold

Since there is no cure for the common cold, sufferers must turn to remedies designed to mitigate the symptoms and make the illness a little more bearable. There are a couple of ways to ease the body's struggle with the cold virus. Choices include an over-the-counter common cold drug or an at-home, herbal common cold remedy. The most effective over-the-counter treatments are:

  • Antihistamines
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen)
  • Decongestants
  • Cough suppressants

Which treatment you choose will depend on your specific symptoms. Be wary of mixing medications; always consult the pharmacist or a medical professional, especially if you are taking any prescription drugs. Other common cold remedies include:

  • Chicken soup
  • Echinacea
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C

While most will do little to lessen the virulence of the virus, they will keep the body hydrated and help the natural immune system maintain its optimal performance level.

When it comes to treating the common cold, post-infection methods are hit-and-miss at best. Experts suggest it's more effective to avoid the virus in the first place by washing hands regularly and maintaining a healthy diet.

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