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Issue 181 - 12 May 2011


Articles about "The Common Cold"

Best Health helps patients and doctors work together by providing them both with the best research evidence about the treatments for many medical conditions.
Access information about the common cold at this link

1. Differentiating between the common cold and influenza.
By Perry, Margaret. Practice Nurse, 12/10/2010, Vol. 40 Issue 10:p11-15
The article explains the differences between the common cold and influenza and how health professionals can provide advice on self-management to patients. The highly contagious common cold is usually a mild disease and is unlikely to lead to serious complications. On the other hand, influenza can lead to such complications as pneumonia and chest infections. The causes of the common cold include rhinoviruses and adenoviruses, while true influenza is caused by infection from influenza types A, B or C.

2. Echinacea for Treating the Common Cold
By: Barrett, Bruce et al. Annals of Internal Medicine, 12/21/2010, Vol. 153 Issue 12: p769-W246
Echinacea is widely used to treat the common cold. Objective: To assess the potential benefits of echinacea as a treatment of common cold. Design: Randomized, controlled trial. ( registration number: NCT00065715) Setting: Dane County, Wisconsin.
Patients: 719 patients, aged 12 to 80 years, with new-onset common cold. Intervention: Patients were assigned to 1 of 4 parallel groups: no pills, placebo pills (blinded), echinacea pills (blinded), or echinacea pills (unblinded, open-label). Echinacea groups received the equivalent of 10.2 g of dried echinacea root during the first 24 hours and 5.1 g during each of the next 4 days. Indistinguishable placebo tablets contained only inert ingredients.
Measurements: The primary outcome was the area under the curve for global severity, with severity assessed twice daily by self-report using the Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey, short version. Secondary outcomes included interleukin-8 levels and neutrophil counts from nasal wash, assessed at intake and 2 days later.
Results: Of the 719 patients enrolled, 713 completed the protocol. Mean age was 33.7 years, 64% were female, and 88% were white. Mean global severity was 236 and 258 for the blinded and unblinded echinacea groups, respectively; 264 for the blinded placebo group; and 286 for the no-pill group. A comparison of the 2 blinded groups showed a 28-point trend (95% CI, -69 to 13 points) toward benefit for echinacea (P = 0.089). Mean illness duration in the blinded and unblinded echinacea groups was 6.34 and 6.76 days, respectively, compared with 6.87 days in the blinded placebo group and 7.03 days in the no-pill group. A comparison of the blinded groups showed a nonsignificant 0.53-day (CI, -1.25 to 0.19 days) benefit (P = 0.075). Median change in interleukin-8 levels and neutrophil counts were also not statistically significant (30 ng/L and 1 cell/high-power field [hpf] in the no-pill group, 39 ng/L and 1 cell/hpf in the blinded placebo group, 58 ng/L and 2 cells/hpf in the blinded echinacea group, and 70 ng/L and 1 cell/hpf in the open-label echinacea group).
Limitation: Higher-than-expected variability limited power to detect small benefits.
Conclusion: Illness duration and severity were not statistically significant with echinacea compared with placebo. These results do not support the ability of this dose of the echinacea formulation to substantively change the course of the common cold. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

3. Update from the cold front: There's no cure in sight, but there do seem to be ways to make the common cold less common.
Harvard Health Letter, Feb 2011, Vol. 36 Issue 4: p4
The article provides information on several methods for prevention and treatment of common cold. It informs that colds are caused by viruses that invade upper respiratory tract, therefore antibiotics would not help the afflicted feel better. It further informs about several studies to combat colds which includes scientist Linus Pauling's assertion to use vitamin C, use of herb Echinacea purpurea, and Texas researcher George Eby's research about the use of zinc.

4. HRV and RSV: more than just the common cold
MLO: Medical Laboratory Observer, Jun 2010, Vol. 42 Issue 6: p14
The article presents various facts related to rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). The rhinovirus is the most common type of cold causing virus and is also known as common cold virus and can also result in acute otitis media and sinusitis. RSV was discovered in 1956 and has no vaccines against it. It is the most common cause of childhood illness and almost all children get infected by the virus by their second birthday.

5. Clinical Approach to Acute Cough
By Boujaoude, Ziad C.& Pratter, Melvin R. Lung, Feb 2010 Supplement 1, Vol. 188: p41-46
Acute cough is among the most common symptoms for which patients seek medical attention. It accounts for millions of days lost from school and work and billions of dollars spent on medical care. Acute cough is defined as cough present for 3 weeks or less. It most often is caused by a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (“common cold”) or lower respiratory tract (i.e., “acute bronchitis”). The most effective treatment for cough due to the common cold is a combination first-generation antihistamine plus decongestant. Antibiotics are not indicated for most cases of acute cough. Occasionally, acute cough can be a symptom of a life-threatening condition. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

6. Importance of Placebo Effect in Cough Clinical Trials
By: Eccles, Ron. Lung, Feb 2010 Supplement 1, Vol. 188: p53-61
Cough is a unique symptom because, unlike sneeze and other symptoms, it can be under voluntary control and this complicates clinical trials on cough medicines. All over-the-counter cough medicines (OTC) are very effective treatments because of their placebo effect. The placebo effect is enhanced by expectancy related to advertising, brand, packaging, and formulation. This placebo effect creates a problem for the conduct of clinical trials on OTC cough medicines that attempt to demonstrate the efficacy of a pharmacological agent above that of any placebo effect. Up to 85% of the efficacy of some cough medicines can be attributed to a placebo effect. The placebo effect apparent in clinical trials consists of several components: natural recovery, regression of cough response toward mean, demulcent effect, effect of sweetness, voluntary control, and effects related to expectancy and meaning of the treatment. The placebo effect has been studied most in the pain model, and placebo analgesia is reported to depend on the activation of endogenous opioid systems in the brain; this model may be applicable to cough. A balanced placebo design may help to control for the placebo effect, but this trial design may not be acceptable due to deception of patients. The placebo effect in clinical trials may be controlled by use of a crossover design, where feasible, and the changes in the magnitude of the placebo effect in this study design are discussed. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

7. The respiratory tract and its infections
Harvard Health Letter, Feb 2010, Vol. 35 Issue 4: p1-4
The article offers information on respiratory tract infections including common cold, sinusitis and pharyngitis. It states that a common cold is an inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the nose and its symptom are runny nose and sneezing. It also mentions that sinusitis is caused by an inflammation of the membranes that line the sinuses. It notes that pharyngitis is an inflammation of the structures of the pharynx.

8. Back-to-school health tips
By Kane, Emily A. Better Nutrition, Aug 2009, Vol. 71 Issue 8: p18-19
The article offers advice on protecting the kids and self from colds and flu. It is suggested that if the children have a history of vulnerability to flu or common cold, then one must go for the laboratory tests to rule out anemia and low levels of vitamin B12 or folic acid that can increase susceptibility to cold and flu. Hand washing is the obvious method for prevention but, one is advised to avoid triclosan-containing antibacterial soaps. Also cod-liver oil uptake regularly combats cold. INSET: EASE ALLERGIES AND ASTHMA.

9. Examining the evidence for the use of vitamin C in the prophylaxis and treatment of the common cold
By Heimer, Kathryn al. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, May 2009, Vol. 21 Issue 5: p295-300
To present a critical evaluation of the current evidence concerning the therapeutic value of vitamin C for the prophylaxis and treatment of the common cold.
Data sources: Cochrane, PubMed, Natural Standard, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine databases were searched to identify and acquire primary research reports, literature reviews, and secondary analyses related to the clinical objective. Published clinical trials, literature reviews, meta-analyses, and systematic reviews were evaluated for evidence-based practice implications.
Conclusions: Vitamin C is frequently used for the treatment and prophylaxis of the common cold; however, no published recommendations were found in a review of the nurse practitioner literature that specifically address the efficacy of vitamin C for the common cold. Our literature review revealed that vitamin C is not effective at preventing the common cold in the general adult population; however, it is effective at preventing colds when consumed regularly by athletes training in subarctic conditions. We also found that regular vitamin C consumption may reduce the duration of cold symptoms in both adults and children, but it does not decrease the severity of cold symptoms. Implications for practice: NPs should counsel their patients that regular vitamin C consumption may decrease the duration of cold symptoms, but does not affect symptom severity or act as a prophylaxis. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Journals - Table of Contents

10. From Australian Doctor, 15/4/2011

10A. Webber's last stand.
10B. Women cancel mammograms after 'scaremongering' email.
10C. Debate over prophylactic ovarian removal ignited.
10D. Fighting the good fight.
10E. Debate over 'cocooning' for pertussis.
10F. Retired GPs fight to the end.
10G. Homeopathic response to flu, but no guarantees offered.
10H. Debate over high-tech, high-cost prostate surgery.
10I. Self-testing for INR is the way to go: study.
10J.  Updated summaries vital for e-records.
10K. In brief
10L. Stroke risk falls after HRT cessation.
10M. Govt's ED target could increase deaths.
10N.  Euthanasia bill 'scary' for patients.
10O. Drug-induced hyponatraemia dangers.
10P. Govt pledges $59m for mental health.
10Q. Let's not talk about sex, board says.
10R. Conference in brief.
10S. Rotavirus vax link to intussusception.
10T. Semi-dried tomatoes serve up helping of hepatitis A.
10U. Call for better disease control.
10V. Doctor guilty after business deal sours.
10W. Coroner rules midwife 'derelict in her duty'.          

News - National and International

11. Call for greater access to e-cigarettes
TVNZ - 11 May 2011
Smokers should have more access to electronic cigarettes as a way of trying to quit smoking, an Auckland researcher says. E-cigarettes are currently in a legal limbo in New Zealand, effectively making their distribution an offence. But parliament will soon consider Ministry of Health recommendations on the Smoke-free Environments (Controls and Enforcement) Amendment Bill, including a proposal that e-cigarettes containing nicotine be legislated as a tobacco-related product.

12. Second patient treated in stem cell trial
Reuters - 11 May 2011
US doctors have begun treating a second patient injected with human embryonic stem cells in the spine as part of a landmark Geron clinical trial testing the cells in spinal cord injuries. The patient, who is not being identified, will undergo a progressive course of rehabilitation at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago after receiving an injection of stem cells at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern officials said.

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