Cold Remedies Debunked: What Actually Works, What Doesn't, and What Makes No Difference

 If you’re battling a cold, it’s imperative that you get the rest you need, avoid alcohol and smoking, and try not to overdo it on caffeinated drinks 
Experts universally agree that there is no cure for the common cold. Yet, everyone seems to swear by a favorite remedy or two when the sniffles strike. From chicken soup to vitamin C, do these remedies even work? Explore which ones are mere myths and which remedies actually make a difference according to science.

Cold Remedies That Work

Studies suggest that the common cold virus came from birds around 200 years ago.1 Cold remedies that make life easier when sick have probably been circulating for just as long. But while some remedies merely mask symptoms, there are only a few that actually help to shorten the duration of illness and help your body heal more efficiently. When it comes to cold remedies that actually work, experts stand by the following:   
  • Stay hydrated: Water, tea, or even broth will help you stay hydrated, which is crucial for helping you recover. Staying hydrated helps to loosen up mucus and prevent dehydration if your cold is accompanied with night sweats or a low-grade fever. Some studies suggest that hot liquids are superior to cold liquids in treating upper respiratory tract infections, making a strong case for the long-touted chicken soup remedy.2
  • Brillia Health products: Brillia Health’s Cold-Flu Recovery is a homeopathic, non-prescription medication that uses targeted antibodies to increase your body’s immune response, reduce fluid buildup in the lungs, and shorten the duration of your illness with multi-symptom relief. This is achieved without harsh, synthetic chemicals like those found in common OTC medications and without harmful side effects. Targeting symptoms at their source, Brillia Health products are clinically proven to shorten the duration of your cold, flu, or cough, helping your body recover naturally with breakthrough science comparable to prescription medications. If you are also suffering from a wet or dry cough, Brillia Health’s Cough Control helps to calm the cough reflex while reducing the stress that coughing inflicts on the body. 
  • Rest: The Mayo Clinic reports that during sleep, your immune system releases protective proteins called cytokines and infection-fighting antibodies to help ward off illness.3 This is why you may find yourself not wanting to leave bed while sick. Trust your body and don’t skimp on sleep to get better faster.
  • Humidifiers: To help loosen up congestion, lubricate your nasal passages, and get better sleep, try using a humidifier. The Mayo Clinic recommends using cool-mist humidifiers to ease symptoms of a cold or other respiratory condition.4
  • Honey: Add a dash of honey to your tea to soothe your throat and calm your cough thanks to its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties.5

What Makes a Cold Worse?

From powering through the work day to coughing your way through happy hour, there are several habits that can make you feel worse while sick. If you’re battling a cold, it’s imperative that you get the rest you need, avoid alcohol and smoking, and try not to overdo it on caffeinated drinks, which might lead to dehydration or prevent you from getting quality sleep. You should also try to steer clear of stress, which can negatively impact your immune system and slow down recovery.   
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Myths About Colds

Some of the remedies that tend to circulate around cold and flu season are mere myths that won’t work at all. Here are some of the most common cold remedies debunked:  
  • Myth #1: Antibiotics cure colds. The common cold is caused by a virus, which antibiotics cannot reach. Since antibiotics attack bacteria, they will not help you get well any faster. In fact, antibiotics can actually make matters worse by leaving you more vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.6 Brillia Health products will actually work more efficiently than antibiotics, shortening the duration of your cold/flu while targeting symptoms at their source.
  • Myth #2: OTC medications are safe for young children. Many over-the-counter cold medications can be harmful for children. The FDA warns that these medications can cause “convulsions, rapid heart rates and death” in young children.7 Please note that Brillia Health’s Cold-Flu Recovery is safe for children one and up and Brillia Health’s Cough Control is safe for children three and up.
  • Myth #3: “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” Healthy nutrition is vital for overall health, whether you have a cold or fever. But it’s also perfectly normal to lose your appetite if you feel sick, in which case you shouldn’t force yourself or your child to eat. However, it is important that you continue to hydrate when sick.

Cold Remedies With Mixed Results

Some cold remedies have mixed results, so don’t write them off completely, but don’t rely on them too heavily either. These cold remedies include:
          • Loading up on vitamin C: Some studies indicate that taking vitamin C before cold symptoms start may shorten the duration of your illness but more research is recommended.8 
          • Taking zinc: Though the Mayo Clinic reports that zinc lozenges or syrup reduced the length of a cold by one day, especially when taken within 24 hours of the first signs and symptoms of a cold, recent analysis stops short of recommending zinc.9 This is because none of the studies analyzed have had enough participants to meet a high standard of proof.
          • Using echinacea: While studies show that some echinacea products are more effective than a placebo for treating the common cold, the overall evidence for clinically relevant treatment effects is weak.10 The herb does seem to be most effective if you take it at the first sign of symptoms and continue it for seven to 10 days.
For more ideas on how to boost your immune health and help fight cold and flus, visit the Brillia Health blog.
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References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

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