There are many myths and old wives tales regarding reducing the risk and treating common colds. Soaking your feet in hot water and covering your chest with brown paper are defiantly of no benefit.

Other treatments now to have been shown of no benefit include taking Echinacea, garlic tablets and antibiotics (which have additional risks of side effects such as diarrhea and altered bowel flora, possibly reducing immune function).

Vitamin C has been shown to mildly protect people under great physical stress (such as marathon runners) from developing a cold and reduces the risk in an average person by 3%.

Zinc lozenges and supplements have some evidence of reducing the duration of a cold by 1-2 days if started in the first 24 hours of symptoms developing. Long term use is not recommend due to taste, nausea and diarrhea side effects and possible toxicity. In children, care must be taken as iron and zinc can interfere with absorption of each other and should be taken at different times.

Over the counter products containing antihistamines with decongestants or analgesics may help relieve symptoms in adults, but the benefits are modest and differ between people and types of infections.

Getting cold or wet does not give you a cold virus, but if you are carrying a cold virus in your nose, it may allow symptoms to develop (researchers suggested that this is because the blood vessels in the nose constrict, affecting defences in the nose making it easier for the virus to replicate).

Eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, controlling stress levels and staying a healthy weight all improve immunity and offer some protection against developing the symptoms of a cold.

Washing your hands helps reduce transmission of viruses, as does avoiding touching your nose and eyes. The research is yet to offer an answer as to whether opening the window and allowing fresh but cold air inside is helpful when there are those inside coughing and sneezing with symptoms of a cold.

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