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Wave Goodbye to Colds for Good!

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5 Ways to Catch a Cold

Taking vitamin C.

Put away the pill bottle: A major Australian review of 23 studies on the subject found that vitamin C didn't reduce the risk of developing a cold, nor did it significantly lessen symptoms once people became ill.

Overdoing it at the gym.

Yes, exercise helps protect you against colds, but too much of a good thing can make you sick. Research at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, shows that while moderate activity, such as brisk walking for 45 minutes a day, helps boost your immune system, intense training, say, for a marathon, can suppress it. "During intense physical activity, your body produces certain hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that temporarily lower immunity," explains Joseph Brasco, MD, an internist and gastroenterologist in Huntsville, Alabama. How much is too much? It depends on your conditioning, but most people shouldn't do more than an hour a day, says Dr. Brasco.

Downing echinacea.

This herb has long been touted as a cold fighter and immune-system enhancer, but a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded it's no better than taking a placebo.

Drinking too much.

"It's a myth that alcohol kills cold germs -- it actually depresses your immune system," says Dr. Lamm. While an occasional glass of wine is fine, limit yourself to no more than one drink a day.

Convincing your doctor to give you antibiotics.

About 12 million unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics to treat upper-respiratory-tract infections such as colds are written in this country every year; one report found this to be the second most common reason doctors prescribe antibiotics. But that's just bad medicine. "There's absolutely no benefit -- colds are viral, so taking an antibiotic is ineffective," says Dr. Schachter. You may only need antibiotics if complications such as bronchitis or sinusitis develop or if underlying health problems, such as diabetes or asthma, require them.

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