The Cold Facts

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Kissing and Echinacea

Myth: Kissing

Kiss someone with a cold and you're sure to get sick.

Fact Shaking someone's hand or touching a doorknob are as risky as kissing. Most colds are spread either through direct contact with respiratory secretions or by inhaling virus-laden droplets that spurt into the air through coughs and sneezes. The best preventive measure: Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, and avoid rubbing your nose and eyes -- entry points for infection. Rhinoviruses can live outside the nasal passage for up to three hours, so disinfecting exposed surfaces may be helpful. Studies suggest rhinovirus colds are most contagious between the second and fourth day.

Myth: Echinacea

Echinacea is a harmless herbal remedy that keeps you healthy when everyone else has a cold.

Fact Echinacea (or purple coneflower) is touted as an infection fighter, yet studies have been contradictory. While some have shown it fights colds, a recent report said it had no effect on infection rates or symptoms. In fact, prolonged use of echinacea may suppress rather than boost the immune system, have a toxic effect on the liver, and interfere with medications.

Continued on page 4:  Chicken Soup and OTC Remedies


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