Sleeping Away the Common Cold

Patient Expert

There is no cure for the common cold, or so we've been told. But a recent study led by Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg suggests that if you can't cure it, then find a method of preventing it.

The study, which appeared in the January 12, 2009, issue of Archives of Internal medicine, shows that, of the 153 volunteers, those who slept fewer than eight hours a night were more likely to contract a cold. For two weeks, the volunteers were interviewed daily about the quality and length of their sleep. Then the researchers administered nasal drops containing rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. The study revealed that those who slept the least were more likely to develop a cold. Lack of sleep has long been known to weaken the immune system, but it appears even minor sleep deprivation can allow a person to be attacked by cold viruses.

Ever since the first caveman came down with a sore throat and sniffles, man has searched for a cure for this annoying disorder, with little or no success. The FDA reviewed thousands of nonprescription drugs and, although some of them will ease the symptoms and shorten the length of your suffering, none could be called a cure. Also, be aware of serious side effects, some worse than your cold.

It's not much use seeing your doctor, either. There is no cure for the cold virus. Neither antibiotics nor antihistamines seem to help.

Some of the home remedies may be just as good as prescription or nonprescription drug. First, drink lots of water or fruit juice to loosen congestion. For years, people have sworn by chicken soup to help relieve cold and flu symptoms. Now scientists have discovered that it does have effects that work well in combating the misery. For that dry, hacking cough, try a little honey in lemon and water.

I can remember my public school days. In winter, especially if there seemed to be many kids with colds, she would tie a cheesecloth bag of camphor around my neck to ward off cold germs. It may not have scared away the germs, but it did a good job of scaring away my schoolmates.

The final word: When it's cold season, be sure you get at least eight hours sleep a night. It may not cure a cold, but it is a good preventive.