How to lose a cold in five days…

multivitaminsIt’s that time again. Here I am, slumped on the sofa, surrounded by tissues and reeking of Lemsip (or a competing supermarket own brand). It’s at dark times like this I wonder, what could I have done to prevent this sad state of affairs?

Apparently the average adult catches 2-3 colds per year, so there are plenty of products out there claiming to prevent or hurry the demise of the inconsiderate little virus.

There are also the traditional cures, including those your mum probably told you about – starving a fever and feeding a cold – whatever that means! Do any of them actually work?

Orange juice/Vitamin C

This is often promoted as a way to keep your immune system healthy but there is no evidence to suggest that it is any more beneficial than other fruit and veggies. Drinking the juice once you have a cold does make you feel better though – sugar rush! If you are taking a vitamin C supplement before and during your cold, you may shorten the duration of your cold.


The manufacturer of the supplement claims that it is the world’s best known herb for supporting the body’s defence system. However, a review of research in 2006 by the Cochrane Collaboration (a network of scientists who evaluate medical research) found that taking Echinacea was no more effective than a placebo at preventing colds. There is one species of Echinacea, Purpurea, which was found to have some effect in shortening the duration of colds, although the evidence was not entirely conclusive.

“The more recent, better-designed studies tend to find that Echinacea doesn’t work,” notes researcher–and Cochrane reviewer–Bruce Barrett of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. “Or it’s possible that Echinacea has only a very small positive effect that some studies will pick up on and others won’t, depending on how they’re designed.”

Multi-vitamin/probiotic supplements

One study (accepted to be the only reasonably conclusive one) followed 225 men and women who took a probiotic multivitamin over two successive cold seasons. The result was that the participants taking the supplement got as many colds as those taking the placebo. However, those taking the supplement found that their colds were shorter by up to two days. They also suffered less from coughing and other symptoms.

Chicken soup

Makes your stomach feel lovely and warm and cheers you up a little, which may hasten the end of your cold!

Vicks First Defence

Apparently it traps the little blighter virus particles at the back of your nose and can be used to stop a cold becoming full-blown (excuse the pun!) In a trial most users noticed that their colds were reduced by one day in comparison with people using other cold relief products.

So, if you use one or more of these products you may reduce your suffering by one or two days but as you probably already guessed, once the virus sets up camp in your nose, there is not much you can do but wait it out. Sorry.

Some lovely little facts about colds….

The virus causing the common cold can only affect you if it gets directly into your nose. So unless you have let someone sneeze directly into your face on the bus or train, you have probably infected yourself with your own hands. If you are concerned about catching a cold this way, carry an antibacterial gel with you and make sure you use it before touching your face.

The virus starts to get busy once it hits the back of your nose, with symptoms appearing within 12 hours. You will find the peak at 1 1/2 to 3 days, and symptoms are generally gone within a week.

Viruses can survive on cold hard surfaces for up to 24 hours so don’t assume you’re safe if you haven’t been near someone who has a cold.

What’s the best way to treat a cold?

1. Begin treatment at the earliest sign of a cold.

2. Take a sustained-release, first-generation antihistamine (the kind that can make you drowsy) like diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Newer, non-sedating antihistamines like Ioratadine (Claritin) don’t appear to be as effective.

3. At the same time, take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), like aspirin or ibruprofen.

4. Continue taking the antihistamine and NSAID every 12 hours until the cold symptoms clear (3 to 7 days).

5. If your stuffy nose or cough doesn’t seem to be getting better, add an oral decongestant like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and a cough suppressant like dextromethorphan, or DM (Robitussin Cough DM).

6. If you feel worse or no better after 7 to 10 days, see your doctor. You may have developed a bacterial infection.

Source: adapted from



Why a daily coffee can keep cancer at bay


London: The UK’s leading mouth cancer campaigners have urged the population to wake up to a pot of coffee and boost chances of keeping clear of cancer.

The British Dental Health Foundation has welcomed news of coffee’s potential after Japanese scientists found a cup of coffee a day made drinkers half as likely to develop oral cancer.

Drinking habits could prove a real boost in the fight to curb deaths from mouth cancer – which kills one person every five hours in the UK.

Cutting down on alcohol is another positive lifestyle choice. Alcohol and tobacco are linked to 80 per cent of cases, while people both drinking and smoking are 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer.

Foundation chief executive Dr Nigel Carter said: “Though quitting smoking and alcohol are the two most positive lifestyle resolutions this New Year, research has shown a coffee a day could help against mouth cancer.

“Our Mouth Cancer Action Week campaign each year also points out the need to visit the dentist regularly for oral cancer screenings, and if in doubt, get checked out.”

Around 5,000 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer reach year in the UK.
Regular dental visits are vital as symptoms often occur pain free, so expert check-ups are necessary.

Self-examination for warning signs – including non-healing ulcers, red and white patches in the mouth or unusual lumps or changes in the mouth – is also an effective way of staying safe.

The recent coffee research was carried out by a team at Japan’s Tohoku University School of Medicine, and tracked 40,000 people aged 40-64 over a 13 year period.

Studies showed people drinking at least a coffee a day were 49 per cent less likely to develop cancers of the mouth or oesophagus. In their report, published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, scientists noted an inverse association between drinking coffee and those at most risk of mouth cancer.

For nore information visit the website

Facts and Figures

* In the UK over 4,750 are diagnosed each year
* Around 1,700 people die of mouth cancer every year
* Mouth cancer is more common in men than women, but the gap is closing
* Mouth cancer is more likely to affect people over 40 years of age, though an increasing number of young people are developing the condition
* Tobacco and alcohol are thought to contribute to 80 per cent of mouth cancer cases
* Smoking is the number one cause for mouth cancer. Cigarette smoke converts saliva into a deadly cell-damaging cocktail
* Switching to low-tar cigarettes will not help, as smokers of ‘lights’ tend to inhale more smoke than smokers of ‘regular’ cigarettes
*Although some people believe that chewing tobacco is safer than smoking, the reality is that it is even more dangerous. Chewing tobacco, paan, areca nut and gutkha are habits favoured by some ethnic groups
* Alcohol aids absorption of smoke into the mouth – people who smoke and drink alcohol to excess are 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer
* Poor diet is linked to a third of all cancer cases. Evidence shows an increase in fruit and vegetables lowers the risk, as can fish and eggs
* It is recommended that people enjoy a healthy, balanced diet, including food from each of the major food groups and including fruit and vegetables of all different colours as each colour contains different vitamins
* Research now suggests the human papilloma virus (HPV) – transmitted by oral sex – could soon rival smoking and drinking as a main cause of mouth cancer.
* Early detection and treatment considerably increases survival chances, allows for simpler treatment and results in a better quality of life for sufferers

About The Charity

The British Dental Health Foundation is the UK’s leading oral health charity, with a 30-year track record of providing public information and influencing government policy. It maintains a free consumer advice service, an impartial and objective product accreditation scheme, publishes and distributes a wide range of literature for the profession and consumers.
National Smile Month runs each May, to promote greater awareness of the benefits of better oral health, with Mouth Cancer Action Week each November.

The Dental Helpline, which offers free impartial dental advice to consumers, can be contacted on 0845 063 1188 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday or by e- mailing