common cold

  1. Driving with the common cold is worse than drinking

    What the cold does to your driving

    Every office has one: The hero.

    You know the guy -- he's the one who won't stay home when he's sick, after all it's only the common cold. No, he wants to show everyone how dedicated he is... so he comes to work, where he can get everyone else sick.

    But spreading germs at work isn't the only bit of carelessness from the "hero," because he could also be putting himself and everyone around him at risk before he even gets to the office.

    The common cold can delay reaction times so much that driving while sick is like driving after four beers, according to a new study.

    Researchers compared the reaction times of sick people to those of healthy people, and found those with colds -- even a mild one -- reacted 36 milliseconds slower than healthy people.

    Compare that to the 15-millisecond delay we see in people just over the legal limit for driving, and you can see just how unsafe it is.

    And that wasn't all.

    People with the common cold also had a reduction in alertness of more than a third and tended to tailgate to boot.

    Closer distances, slower reaction times -- next thing you know, that sniffle can turn into a fender-bender. And in some cases, it could lead to something even worse -- because the study also finds that a simple sneeze can force your eyes off the road for up to 3 seconds at a time.

    If you think that's not enough time to get into an accident, close your eyes now and count to three (but do it at your desk, not behind the wheel).

    The best way to beat the common cold is with a strong immune system. But if you happen to catch one anyway, the best way to recover isn't to go to work and get everyone else sick or to take to the roads and risk an accident.

    It's to stay home, take your vitamins and get some rest. And don't be a hero.

  2. Probiotics can help beat the cold

    Cure your cold with probiotics

    I'm exposed to patients sick with the cold all the time, yet I haven't had a cold myself in years.

    It's not good luck, a powerful drug, or even a magic trick. In fact, you can avoid the cold yourself if you optimize your immune system so it has the power to fight off the virus that causes it.

    And even if you do happen to get sick, there are 100 percent natural remedies that can do what drugs cannot, reducing the symptoms so you're not as miserable and shortening the length so you're back on your feet as quickly as possible.

    One new study even finds that a dose of friendly gut bacteria can help give your immune system the boost it needs to beat the coughs and sniffles.

    Researchers gave 198 college students 1 billion colony-forming units each of two powerful probiotics in powder form, or a placebo, and then tracked both the duration and severity of their colds.

    Those who got the placebo had the typical cold: Six days of coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and a nose that runs like it's training for a marathon.

    Those who got the real probiotic had an average cold length of just four days as well as a 34 percent reduction in severity of the symptoms.

    It's worth noting that the company that makes this particular probiotic blend also sponsored the study -- an obvious conflict of interest. However, it doesn't surprise me in the least that probiotics could help beat the common cold, since gut bacteria can play a critical role in overall immune health and other studies have shown that probiotics prevent colds in kids.

    But don't rely on probiotics alone. Instead, make sure your cold-beating strategy is centered around more proven remedies -- and I don't mean NyQuil.

    Start with zinc. One study I told you about over the summer found that zinc lozenges can shorten cold duration by 1.6 days -- and some studies have found they can actually cut cold duration in half.

    In addition, don't forget the best natural immune boosters around -- vitamin D, which has shown to help beat the common cold and even the flu, as well as the old standby, vitamin C.

    They may not cure the cold. But together, they're the next best thing.

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