The common cold leads to more healthcare provider visits and absences from school and work than any other illness each year. It is caused by any one of several viruses and is easily spread to others. It’s not caused by cold weather or getting wet.
Causes the common cold :
A cold is caused by any one of several viruses that causes inflammation of the membranes that line the nose and throat. It can result from any one of more than 200 different viruses. But, the rhinoviruses causes most colds. The common cold is very easily spread to others. It’s often spread through airborne droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air by the sick person. The droplets are then inhaled by another person. Colds can also be spread when a sick person touches you or a surface (like a doorknob) that you then touch.
Contrary to popular belief, cold weather or being chilled doesn’t cause a cold. However, more colds do occur during the cold season (early fall to late winter). This is probably due to a variety of factors, including:
Schools are in session, increasing the risk for exposure to the virus
People stay more indoors and are in closer proximity to each other
Low humidity, causing dry nasal passages which are more susceptible to cold viruses.
Who is at risk for the common cold?
Everyone is at risk for the common cold. People are most likely to have colds during fall and winter, starting in late August or early September until March or April. The increased incidence of colds during the cold season may be attributed to the fact that more people are indoors and close to each other. In addition, in cold, dry weather, the nasal passages become drier and more vulnerable to infection.
Children suffer more colds each year than adults, due to their immature immune systems and to the close physical contact with other children at school or day care. In fact, the average child will have between 6 to 10 colds a year. The average adult will get 2 to 4 colds a year.
Common cold symptoms may include:
Stuffy, runny nose
Scratchy, tickly throat
Mild hacking cough
Achy muscles and bones
Watery discharge from nose that thickens and turns yellow or green
Colds usually start 2 to 3 days after the virus enters the body and symptoms last from several days to several weeks.Cold symptoms may look like other medical conditions. Always consult your healthcare provider for a diagnosis if your symptoms are severe.A cold and the flu (influenza) are two different illnesses. A cold is relatively harmless and usually clears up by itself, although sometimes it may lead to a secondary infection, such as an ear infection. However, the flu can lead to complications, such as pneumonia and even death. What may seem like a cold, could be the flu.
How to Diagnose Cold?
Most common colds are diagnosed based on reported symptoms. However, cold symptoms may be similar to certain bacterial infections, allergies, and other medical conditions. Always consult your healthcare provider for a diagnosis if your symptoms are severe.
How is the common cold treated?
Currently, there is no medicine available to cure or shorten the duration of the common cold. However, the following are some treatments that may help to relieve some symptoms of the cold:
Over-the-counter cold medicines, such as decongestants and cough medicine
Over-the-counter antihistamines (medicine that helps dry up nasal secretions and suppress coughing)
Increased fluid intake
Pain relievers for headache or fever
Warm, salt water gargling for sore throat
Petroleum jelly for raw, chapped skin around the nose and lips
Warm steam for congestion
Because colds are caused by viruses, antibiotics don’t work. Antibiotics are only effective when given to treat bacterial infections.
Do not give aspirin to a child who has fever. Aspirin, when given as treatment for viral illnesses in children, has been associated with Reye syndrome. This is a potentially serious or deadly disorder in children.
What are the complications of the common cold?
Colds can lead to secondary infections, including bacterial, middle ear, and sinus infections that may require treatment with antibiotics. If you have a cold along with high fever, sinus pain, significantly swollen glands, or a mucus-producing cough, see your healthcare provider. You may need additional treatment.
Can the common cold be prevented?
The best way to avoid catching cold is to wash your hands often and avoid close contact with people who have colds. When around people with colds, do not touch your nose or eyes, because your hands may be contaminated with the virus.
If you have a cold, cough and sneeze in facial tissue and dispose of the tissue promptly. Then wash your hands right away. Also clean surfaces with disinfectants that kill viruses can halt the spread of the common cold. Research has shown that rhinoviruses may survive up to 3 hours outside of the nasal lining.