Facts about Common Cold
The common cold is a viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract primarily the nose, throat, sinuses and larynx. The common cold is a self-limited contagious disease caused by a number of different types of viruses. In medical terms common cold is referred to as a viral upper respiratory tract infection. Over 200 virus strains contribute to causing the common cold in which the Rhinovirus plays an important part.
Cold can also be caused by viruses including coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and parainfluenza. They spread through air by close contact with infected people. The common cold is the most frequent infectious disease of humans. An average adult gets about two to three colds per year while that number increases to six to eight in children. These infections occur more commonly during the winters.
HOW DOES A COMMON COLD START
One can catch a common cold from another person infected with a cold-causing virus. It can be caught also by the virus released in droplets by coughing or sneezing. It basically starts when a virus finds a place for itself in the lining of your nose or throat. Our immune system then gives out white blood cells to attack the trespasser. If our body has not come into contact with the same strain of virus before the initial attack can fail and then our body has to send in reinforcements. Now our nose and throat start to make a lot of mucus.
As almost all our body’s energy is directed at fighting the cold virus our body is left feeling tired and all down and out. One does not get a cold by coming into contact with water. The thing that helps to catch you cold is extreme tiredness, being under emotional distress and have allergy problems.
SYMPTOMS OF COMMON COLD
The symptoms can be seen between one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus. The symptoms include—
1.Runny or stuffy nose.
5.Slight body aches or a mild headache.
8.General feeling of illness (Malaise).
The discharge from your nose can become thicker and yellow or green as the cold starts to become more intense. But it is not an indication of a bacterial infection. But you need to consult a doctor, if for adults—-
1.Fever becomes greater than 101.3F.
- Fever lasts for five or more days or if it relapses.
- Shortness of breath.
- Severe sore throat, headache or sinus.
And for children-—
- Fever crosses 100.4F in newborns up to 12 weeks.
- Rising fever or fever which continues for more than 2 days in a child of any age.
- Symptoms that worsen or fail to improve.
- Ear pain.
- Extreme fussiness.
- Unusual drowsiness.
- Lack of appetite.
The general symptoms of cold can be there for a few days but flu symptoms can stay there and make you ill for a few days to weeks. The common cold is not a big concern to worry about but it can lead to serious issues if you have a sinus infection or sinusitis along with cold or allergies. It’s also a thing to worry about if you are having a middle ear infection (acute otitis media). Also if you have asthma, heart disease, diabetes, AIDS, HIV the common cold will prove troublesome to you.
CAUSES OF THE COMMON COLD
Rhinovirus is the most common virus that causes a common cold and almost 40% of all adult colds are caused by it. The Rhinovirus thrives and is seen to multiply at temperatures of the nose. These infections develop from September to November and from March to May. Other similar viruses are Para influenza virus, Respiratory Synctial virus, Adenovirus virus, Corona virus. A cold virus enters our body through our mouth, eyes or nose. When some sick coughs, sneezes or talks should cover cover their face. This helps prevention of spread of droplets filled with germs. The body is unable to build resistance against all kind of viruses because new viruses are constantly forming in our body. So colds are a frequent, never ending problem to face. It occurs most frequently during fall, winter and spring.
SOME RISK FACTORS THAT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING COMMON COLD
These risk factors can increase your chances of contracting a cold—
- AGE-Children younger than six are at a higher risk of getting a cold as they lack a developed immune system to fight with advanced and complicated virus attacks.
- WEAKENED IMMUNE SYSTEM-Having a prolonged illness or a weakened immune system increases your risk of getting a cold.
- TIME OF YEAR OR SEASONAL VARIATION-Both children and adults are susceptible to colds in fall and winter but nonetheless you can get a cold anytime of the year without prior warning for the same.
- SMOKING-Cigarette smokers are more likely to get a cold as compared to their non-smoking counterparts.
- EXCESS FATIGUE AND EMOTIONAL IMBALANCE-People with lots of fatigue and under emotional distress develop common cold easily.
FAST FACTS OF COMMON COLD
- The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by many viruses.
- It is transmitted by airborne droplets infected by viruses or by coming in contact with infected people or things.
- It’s common symptoms are coughing, sore throat, cough, sneezing, a runny nose.
- Common cold is not caused by the changing pattern of weather, being in cold or hot weather, but cold weather surely promotes it’s onset.
- Some over-the-counter medications can help to bring the problem in command.
- Antibiotics are not necessary for the prevention of common cold.
- It is a self-limited disease that is manageable.
- It has no cure and there is no available vaccine for it.
SPREAD OF THE COMMON COLD
The common cold is mostly spread by direct contact with infected surfaces or by inhaling the airborne virus when you sneeze or cough. A cold virus thrives on contaminated surfaces like pens, books, cell phones, computer keyboards or anything coming in frequent contact with humans. Common cold is contagious from one to two days. The symptoms of cold are similar for infants, children and adults.
It starts with a runny nose and a whitish nasal discharge which can change color to yellow and green if cold lingers for longer time. It can also show decreased appetite. The common cold is mostly contracted in winters but it has nothing to do with seasonal variations. As people spend more time at homes following a sedentary routine, the spread of this virus is facilitated more easily. The low levels of humidity also help in the development of common cold.
PREVENTION AND EFFECTIVE HOME REMEDIES FOR COMMON COLD
There’s no vaccine for the common cold but certain precautions can help slow down the effect and intensity of it—
- Wash your hands—We must frequently wash our hands thoroughly with soap and water. Or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Disinfect your stuff—We must clean our entire house, kitchen or bathroom with disinfectants especially if someone in the family has a cold.
- Use tissues—Sneeze or cough into tissues and discard them right away and wash hands immediately.
- Don’t share—Do not share drinking glasses or utensils with other family members.
- Steer clear of colds—Avoid close contact with anyone who has cold.
HOME REMEDIES FOR COMMON COLD
There is no remedy for common cold. The home remedy for upper respiratory infection includes getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids. In adults common drugs like throat lozenges, throat sprays, cough drops, cough syrups help in fighting the symptoms but they will not prevent the occurrence of common cold. People with sore throats can help themselves by gargling with warm water.
Decongestant drugs such as pseudoephedrine or antihistamines used along with saline nasal sprays. Antibiotics and over-the-counter drugs can have certain side effects so they should always be taken with doctor’s advice. Certain drugs that can help with fever, sore throat, head and body aches are Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory called Ibuprofen. Infants and growing children should be given adequate rest and should take lots of fluids to prevent dehydration. Aspirin or medications containing the same should not be given to children or teenagers because it can lead to a rare and fatal condition called Reye’s syndrome.
If you are looking for a non-medicinal way to cure colds then these ways can be helpful—
1.Vitamin C-Foods rich in vitamin C like oranges, lemon, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, watermelon, broccoli, brussels sprouts, lychees, chilli peppers, thyme etc.
2.Echinacea-This herb can help to combat colds.
3.Zinc lozenges and nasal spray-It too can prove to be helpful.
4.Chicken soup-A hot, steaming chicken soup can work wonders to ease that running nose and give comfort to the sad sore throat.
5.Ginger tea– It proves to be a great respite from cold because the blended ginger of your tea undoubtedly proves to be a super comforting idea to be tried.