Author | Ronald B. Turner, MD


Strategies for preventing the common cold: The current evidence

January 02, 2009

Although the common cold is usually benign, it can lead to exacerbations of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and it is a leading cause of missed school and work. Strategies for prevention have been directed at interruption of viral transmission between persons, as with the use of virucidal agents or disinfectants, and prevention of infection after acquisition of the pathogen. Hand washing continues to be recommended, but there is no proof that hand sanitizers or virucidal tissues are effective in preventing colds. Prophylactic therapies that have been considered include vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, Echinacea, ginseng, and probiotics. Although some evidence may suggest possible benefits with zinc and probiotics, for example, overall, the data are insufficient to recommend any of these as prophylaxis for the common cold. (J Respir Dis. 2009;30)