At last: A cure for the common cold

You've got a lot on your mind as summer approaches: beach, barbecues, and maybe even a trip to see your loved ones.

But the one thing you're probably NOT thinking about is catching a cold.

I hope you don't get sick, in this season or any other.

It can happen, though. Even in summer. Heck, sometimes those warm-weather bugs can be every bit as nasty as the ones circulating in the dark days of January and February.

Now, the latest research reveals what just may be the closest thing we have a cure for the common cold.

It's completely natural, perfectly safe, and so cheap you can get a supply of it right now for just a few bucks so you'll have it on hand when you need it.

It's zinc -- especially zinc lozenges, which can cut the duration of the cold so you get better about 33 percent faster, according to the new analysis of 30 years of research.

There are two kinds of zinc used in those little slow-dissolving tablets: zinc acetate and zinc gluconate.

The study finds zinc acetate might be a little more effective, cutting the duration of the cold by an average of 40 percent.

The other form, zinc gluconate, cuts cold duration by an average of 28 percent.

That might seem like a big difference, but the researchers say it might be due entirely to chance -- so you can take either one and expect similar results.

Most of those lozenges contain very low doses of zinc.

That's actually good, since too much zinc at once can lead to gas and diarrhea. The lozenges are a way of getting a little bit at a time so you're less likely to battle stomach problems.

But track how much you're getting to ensure you take the right amount each day.

According to the new study, that's just under 100 mg. In the studies in the analysis, taking between 80mg and 92mg per day was just as effective as taking more than 200 mg per day.

One way to track it is to count out your lozenges in the morning and set them aside. If they have 5 mg of zinc each, set aside about 20 and take them throughout the day instead of all at once.

Along with helping to fight the cold, the lozenges will also soothe a sore and dry throat.

And, of course, be sure to follow the usual rules: Stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep, and you'll be back on your feet and ready for action in no time.