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Avoiding the Common Cold – And What to Do If You Catch It

Dr. Paula Amendola-Sekinski, Family Medicine

March 1, 2022

Avoiding the Common Cold – And What to Do If You Catch It

We’ve all heard the age-old complaint: “If they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they find a cure for the common cold?”

The answer is: They just might.

Researchers today are working to develop a "pan-coronavirus" vaccine, which would offer protection against the various strains of not only the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but also against some versions of the common cold. There have been over 200 virus strains found to play a role in causing the cold, with coronaviruses, rhinoviruses, adenoviruses and enteroviruses among the most common.

This is certainly good news, though your family doctor won’t be getting doses of such a vaccine soon.

"I don't want anyone to think that pan-coronavirus vaccines are literally around the corner in a month or two,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a Jan. 26 briefing at the White House. “It's going to take years to develop in an incremental fashion.” He added, however, that “Some of these are already in Phase 1 clinical trials.”

In the meantime, people will keep getting colds. So what can you do to avoid being one of them? Basically everything you’re doing to avoid COVID!

Those measures include staying home if you’re sick; getting plenty of rest; staying hydrated; washing your hands frequently; keeping your hands away from your mouth; and maintaining a healthy diet.

I’m often asked if taking dose after dose of vitamins is a good idea. With the exception of Vitamin D, which can boost your immune system, the answer is, “No.” There is no research that shows taking extra vitamins will prevent catching colds.

But low levels of Vitamin D can make your symptoms worse. If you are not getting enough Vitamin D, I recommend taking upwards of 1,000 mg a day.

Sometimes, even by following the above steps, a cold can linger. If you are still running a fever after 72 to 96 hours, or if you feel anything unusual in your chest, you should immediately seek help from your physician. And while a cold-related cough can last for up to six weeks, if it persists beyond two weeks, I also recommend seeing your doctor.

Meanwhile, let’s all keep hoping for that pan-coronavirus vaccine – something that would prove to be a real game-changer in more ways than one.

Dr. Paula Amendola-Sekinski

Dr. Paula Amendola-Sekinski specializes in family medicine and primary care, including routine examinations, immunizations and management of chronic diseases. To make an appointment, call 914-849-7180.