Cure your sniffles with remedies old and new

It’s the time of year when the common cold rears its ugly head once again. Treating colds is a big business, but it’s money you’ll never have to spend and time you won’t have to lose if you know how to prevent it and treat it properly.

However, do all of these methods work? Here is a guide to popular ways of supposedly preventing and treating the common cold.

Vitamin C

Michelle Fabrizi, sophomore music education major, dealt with a cold earlier this year. Her solution was pretty much what mothers have been telling children for years.

“I drank a lot of orange juice that week,” Fabrizi said.

According to, a study reported that vitamin C only minimally reduced the duration of a cold, and it was only most effective in people involved in rigorous physical activity, like skiers or soldiers.

Researchers are trying to determine if copious amounts of vitamin C taken at the first signs of a cold can reduce the symptoms or even prevent a cold altogether. Some Web sites claim this works at extremely high doses (8,000 mg every 20 minutes).

The best solution at this time of year is to drink orange juice or take vitamin C on a regular basis and not wait until a cold hits. Trying to get vitamin C into your system after a cold hits isn’t going to help much at all.

Zinc Lozenges/Airborne

In the late 1990s, zinc lozenges like Cold-Eaze were marketed as a near-cure for the common cold.

In recent years, Airborne, a vitamin supplement, has been touted by personalities like Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey as 100 percent effective at preventing colds.

If these were cures for the common cold, there wouldn’t be a person on the planet who wouldn’t be buying them. People may live by either of these cold prevention sources, but they are hardly cures.

Zinc lozenges work on the principle that zinc deficiencies cause common colds, and taking an oral zinc lozenge will give the body the zinc it needs to properly prevent the spread of the cold virus. However, the cold virus resides in the nostrils, while the zinc lozenges are taken orally with a limited ability to even reach the nose.

Airborne was flying off the shelves last year. This year, either the manufacturer is doing a better job of meeting demand or people just don’t care, because Airborne is not difficult to find.

Airborne is a combination of vitamins and herbs that is taken like seltzer water. There is no scientific proof and no research study backing all of the wonderful things that Airborne touts.

If you do take a zinc lozenge or Airborne, do not take it as a cure for the cold, and don’t take it after a cold has hit.


Sometimes, a cold hits and it’s too late to worry about prevention. Sudafed is usually the next step.

“I might take Sudafed, but only if it gets really bad,” Serena Miller, junior nursing major, said.

Sudafed does not cure or prevent a cold, but it tends to do a decent job at relieving most cold symptoms. However, the problem with Sudafed in the past has been its active ingredient, pseudoephedrine, or ephedrine for short.

It has been linked to strokes and heart attacks, and while college students don’t tend to think about these risks, they are serious and need to be made apparent. However, there is good news in regard to Sudafed. Last year, Sudafed PE came out. Instead of pseudoephedrine, it contains a different decongestant called phenylephrine.

If you are using Sudafed to treat colds, definitely try to get a hold of Sudafed PE to avoid the potentially hazardous side effects of regular Sudafed.

The old standards

There’s a lot to be said about the good old-fashioned ways of treating a cold.

“(Colds) are just an annoyance,” Jennifer Fish, senior psychology major, said. “I just rest and not work as much.”

Colds always seem to come at academically inconvenient times for students, but drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of rest are great ways of treating a cold. One day of resting may save you two or three days of serious cold symptoms. If you don’t have the time to rest, make the time.

Be sure to wash your hands a lot as well, since cold viruses are easily spread through skin contact.