Infrared light may ease common cold
Scientists are investigating whether colds could treat in the near future by infrared light.
If their research is successful, it could lead to cold suffers having their symptoms relived simply by sitting near a lamp, rather than taking decongestants and other remedies, some of which can cause drowsiness and prevent users from driving or operating machinery.
The common cold unit at the university of Wales in Cardiff, has been electronics group Philips to carry out the research in the use of the Infraophil lamp.
It is known that infrared is useful to ease the suffering of people with rheumatism, lumbago, neuralgia, and aching muscles, and Philips now wants to know what the effects are on acute upper-respiratory tract in fictions which are common in many colds.
The Cardiff center, the only one of its kind in the world is carrying out random studies to see what effect the use of the lamp has the symptoms of colds and how it works.
The Philips lamp has a red fronted bulb, coated with a reflective layer on the inside. It emits skin penetrating energy in the short-wave infrared region.
A pressed glass version with prismatic rings is also available. It produces a lens effect that provides a beneficial concentration of radiant heat.
“We have asked the common cold researchers at the unit to carry out a trial with the lamps and they will be comparing the behavior of the infection in the upper respiratory tract of two groups of people one of which will be exposed to the infrared lamp, “says a spokesman for Philips.
The heat is thought to have some kind of releasing effect on the congested respiratory tract of people with colds. It is known, for instance, that people who breathe in steam can ease their respiratory symptoms.
Weknow that infrared lamps work on a variety of other ailments and our lamps are specially produced for use in healthcare apparatus for these conditions,” says the Philips spokesman.
Dr Ron Eccles, director of the Cardiff center, says: “we are always interested in testing new treatment and this is one of the very few medical devices, rather than medication designed to ease the suffering of the common cold. The lamp gives out heat and light, and in winter months in particular the light may also be as useful as the heat. We are still investigating to see which has the greater effect and how it works.”
The center is also investigating the use of nitric oxide as a way of controlling the course of the common cold.
Nitric oxide, more commonly thought of as a pollutant, has been found in the lungs and noses of people with colds and viruses. A considerable amount of the gas is produced in the nose, possibly in response to the cod and its symptoms.
“We now know the nitric oxide is there, produced by enzymes in the tissue of the lungs and the nose. Maybe it is being released as part of the inflammatory response of the body to the cold. It may therefore be useful in killing cold viruses,”Says Eccles.
We think that the nitric oxide, which is also used in heart patients to dilate their blood vessels may attack and kill the virus in the lungs and possibly in the nose as well.”
The team is now looking at how the mechanisms which produce the gas could be manipulated to produce more nitric oxide to boost the effect on the symptoms.
“We may be able to stimulate the production and alter the course, of the disease,” says Eccles.
The role of zine in the relief of sore throats is also being investigated by the center in work supported by Boats. Trials are to start using groups of people to test the performance of zinc gluconate lozenges in the treatment of the common cold. – ST