Do cold medications actually help?

It seems like everyone I know has a cold right now. Most adults get two to three colds a year.

Medical researchers still haven't been able to find a way to cure or prevent the common cold.

Despite the bold claims, the most you can expect from any cold medication or supplement is some temporary relief of your symptoms.

The experts at the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter say there's no solid research to back up claims for Echinacea, garlic or vitamin C.

And what about the widely-advertised supplement, Airborne?

"Our take is: you are wasting your money," said Dr. John Swartzberg, head of the editorial board at the Wellness Letter. "Also, a caveat: it has a lot of vitamin A in it and if you take it regularly in large quantities, that high dose of vitamin A can damage your bones."

Zinc lozenges may shorten a cold by a day and reduce the severity of the symptoms if started within 24 hours of the first symptoms. But the side effects of taking zinc are nausea, diarrhea and cramps, not to mention a bad taste in the mouth.

Zinc should never be taken for more than a day or so and don't use any zinc product for the nose. It can damage your sense of smell permanently.

For more information

Cold Supplements, from Airborne to Zinc

Common Cold