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Common Cold Cures

February 9, 2009

Researchers tease out what really works and what doesn’t when it comes to managing your cold.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Conquering your cold….I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

They say the only sure things in life are death and taxes. But most people would probably agree that the common cold ranks right up there too. Ron Eccles is the director of The Common Cold Center at Cardiff University in Wales where he and his colleagues test the effectiveness of different cold remedies. He says the bad news is, if you’re searching for relief from a nasty cough, common medicines like codeine and dextromathorphin are surprisingly useless. But…

RON ECCLES (The Common Cold Center at Cardiff University):
…the main effect of the cough medicine is due to the sweet syrup, which causes us to salivate and also promotes mucus secretions in the airway to soothe the cough.

HIRSHON:
As for nasal congestion, he says common nasal sprays such as oxymetazoline are very effective, but the very same medicines in tablet form are a waste of money. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.