Queen's University medical researchers conducted a review of 80 published clinical trials, studies and research projects representing the work of more than 300 researchers from more than 100 universities and institutions.
The review also found two-thirds of Canadian adults experiencing the first signs of a cold or flu used some type of self-treatment, with women more likely to self treat but also consulting a doctor more often than men.
Cough and cold remedies are the second most commonly used medications in Canada.
Canadians spend more than $300 million a year on over-the-counter cold and flu treatments and prescription antibiotics which, for the most part, neither "ameliorate symptoms nor change the course of the illnesses."
"Preventative measures that result in even a modest reduction in colds and flu would have a significant impact on reducing costs to the healthcare system and impact on the economy," the researchers said.
Queen's researchers also cite a sharp increase in pediatric asthma cases as a result of rhinovirus infection, the primary cause of colds, when school begins.
"School-age children have been shown to introduce rhinovirus infections -- cause of the common cold -- into their families three times more frequently than working adults," the researchers added.