Washington: A new study has revealed that while zinc may be best for prevention, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and perhaps antihistamine-decongestant combinations are the recommended treatments.
The study by Drs. Michael Allan, Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, and Bruce Arroll, Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Auckland, New Zealand, aimed at physicians and patients, looked at available evidence for both traditional and nontraditional approaches for preventing and alleviating colds.
A review of 67 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) indicated that handwashing, a traditional public health approach, as well as alcohol disinfectants and gloves, is likely effective.
Zinc may work for children (and possibly adults) - at least 2 RCTs indicated that children who took 10 or 15 mg of zinc sulfate daily had lower rates of colds and fewer absences from school due to colds. The authors suggest that zinc may also work for adults.
There is some evidence that probiotics may help prevent colds, although the types and combinations of organisms varied in the studies as did the formulations (pills, liquids, etc.), making comparison difficult.
Antihistamines combined with decongestants and/or pain medications appear to be somewhat or moderately effective in treating colds in older children - but not in children under age 5 - and adults.
It was found that ipratropium, a drug used to treat allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, may alleviate runny nose when used in a nasal spray but has no effect on congestion.
According to the evidence, the benefits of frequently used remedies such as ginseng, (found in ColdFX), gargling, vapour rubs and homeopathy are unclear.
Cough medicines show no benefit in children but may offer slight benefit in adults. Honey has a slight effect in relieving cough symptoms in children over age 1. Vitamin C and antibiotics show no benefit, and misused antibiotics can have associated harms.
The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
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