Common Cold Myths
Common Cold Myths: AntibioticsAnother common cold myth is that antibiotics can be used to treat the common cold. Antibiotics kill bacteria, but the common cold is caused by a virus. Therefore, antibiotics will have no effect on the organisms that cause the common cold.
Antibiotics can be used to treat complications of the common cold, such as bronchitis, sinusitis, or ear infections, but these complications are rare.
Overuse of antibiotics has become a very serious problem, leading to a resistance in disease-causing bacteria that may render antibiotics ineffective for certain conditions. In addition, you should not use antibiotics "just in case," because they will not prevent bacterial infections.
(Click When to Call the Doctor for a Cold or Flu for more information.)
Common Cold Myths: SteamAlthough inhaling steam may temporarily relieve symptoms of congestion, health experts have found that this approach is not an effective common cold treatment.
Common Cold Myths: EchinaceaEchinacea is a dietary herbal supplement that some people use to treat their colds. Researchers, however, have found that while the herb may help treat your colds if taken in the early stages, it will not help prevent them.
One large research study found that echinacea is not effective at all in treating children ages 2 to 11.
Common Cold Myths: Vitamin CMany people are convinced that when it comes to the common cold, vitamin C in large quantities will prevent colds or relieve cold symptoms. To test this common cold myth, several large-scale, controlled studies involving children and adults were conducted. To date, no conclusive data have shown that large doses of vitamin C prevent colds. The vitamin may reduce the severity or duration of symptoms, but there is no clear evidence of this.
Taking vitamin C over long periods of time in large amounts may be harmful. Too much vitamin C can cause severe diarrhea, a particular danger for elderly people and small children.