Because of the early snowfall, it's been a very long winter - made worse by regular intervals of cold and flu.
Pre-school children commonly catch five to eight colds per year and for those with children in childcare it can be even more. It all adds up to nearly one cold per month!
Fortunately, as children get older, they develop antibodies that provide immunity to colds and when they reach adulthood the frequency of colds usually tapers off to three or four per year.
But, have you ever wished there was a cure for the common cold? Well in February this year Channel 4 News reported that a study had been carried out showing that help may be on the way. The study
found that if zinc supplements, such as zinc syrup, lozenges or tablets, are taken within a day of the onset of a cold they can reduce the severity and duration of common cold symptoms. Trials showed
that those who took zinc suffered less symptoms and recovered quicker than those who took a placebo.
However, It should be noted that zinc lozenges can leave a bad taste in the mouth, and some trial participants reported nausea as a side effect. Also, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the
USA, warns that some zinc based lozenges and nasal sprays can take away your sense of smell, possibly for good!
The early signs are promising, but more trials need been carried out in order to find the most effective formulation, dose and duration for treating colds with zinc.
So in the meantime, what else can we do to fight the common cold?
- Fluids - Drinking plenty of liquids such as water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration. Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated sodas,
which make dehydration worse.
- Salt water - A salt water gargle, (¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water) can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
- Saline nasal drops and sprays - Over-the-counter saline nasal drops and sprays combat stuffiness and congestion. Unlike nasal decongestants, saline drops and sprays don't lead to a worsening of
symptoms when the medication is stopped and most are safe and non-irritating, even for children.
- Chicken soup - Generations of parents have spooned chicken soup into their sick children and amazingly there seems to be something in it, as chicken soup appears to have anti-inflammatory and
- Over-the-counter cold and cough medications - Non-prescription decongestants and pain relievers offer some symptom relief, but they won't prevent a cold or shorten its duration, most have some
side effects and, if used for more than a few days, they can actually make symptoms worse. Experts agree that these medications are dangerous in children under 2 years old and their use for older
children is being reviewed.
- Antihistamines - Antihistamines may provide minor relief for many cold symptoms, including cough, sneezing, watery eyes and nasal discharge. But some of the side effects may outweigh the
- Humidity - Colds are more common in winter as viruses thrive in dry conditions. Dry air also dries the mucous membranes, causing a stuffy nose and scratchy throat, so a humidifier can add
moisture to your home and relieve your symptoms, but it can also add mould, fungi and bacteria if not cleaned properly, so change the water in your humidifier daily, and clean the unit according to
the manufacturer's instructions.
- Alternative Therapies - Reflexology boosts the immune system which helps you fight viruses such as the common cold before they get a chance to take hold. It can help relieve most of the physical
discomforts and symptoms of the cold and accelerate the healing process. A monthly course of Reflexology helps to keep the body and mind in balance, restores our body's natural rhythms and helps to
keep those pesky viruses at bay!