Taking zinc works, too. This element is found in meat, beans and nuts, and appears to be effective in reducing the number of colds per year, at least in children, the researchers said. In studies, children who took 10 to 15 milligrams of zinc sulfate daily had fewer colds than children taking a placebo. Although these studies involved only children, there is no biological reason why zinc would not work similarly in adults, the researchers said.
There is some evidence that probiotics may help prevent colds, although the types and combinations of organisms varied in the studies, as did the formulations (for example, pills or liquids), making comparison difficult, the researchers said.
Studies of other measures - including gargling water, eating garlic, exercising and homeopathic remedies - didn't provide clear or sufficient evidence that these methods are beneficial, the researchers said.
Treatment The pain relievers ibuprofen and acetaminophen are effective in relieving pain and fever, but not in relieving other symptoms, the researchers found. Ibuprofen appears to work better than acetaminophen in treating fever in children.