Flu / Cold / SARSInfectious Diseases / Bacteria / VirusesRespiratory

All about the common cold

The common cold is an infectious viral disease affecting the upper respiratory tract. Among humans, it is the most common infectious disease.

Coronaviruses or rhinoviruses result in most colds. The cold-causing coronavirus is different from SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. COVID-19 and a cold are different diseases.

A cold can be caused by many forms of virus, and the human body can never develop tolerance to them all. This is why colds are so prevalent and return regularly.

An average adults get 2-3 colds a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and children may have more. Usually, they last for about 7-10 days.

Colds spread through droplets in the air and on surfaces.

Symptoms

A lady having common cold

Whenever an individual has a cold virus, their immune system tries to attack it off. It triggers the symptoms we know as a cold.

Symptoms can vary, but there are common ones that include:

Rarer symptoms include:

  • muscle aches
  • shivering
  • pinkeye
  • weakness
  • low appetite
  • fatigue

More serious symptoms or a secondary infection, such as pneumonia, may grow in people with a compromised immune system. They should seek medical attention if a person has more severe symptoms.

Is it coronavirus?

Anyone who has the following symptoms should stay away and seek medical advice from other people:

  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough
  • a loss or change to the senses of smell or taste

They should obtain emergency medical treatment at once if a person experiences the following:

  • difficulty breathing
  • pain or tightening in the chest
  • confusion
  • an inability to stay awake
  • bluish lips or face

To ask for directions, you or another person may call 911 or the nearest emergency department.

Causes

Cold symptoms can be caused by over 200 different viruses, and rhinoviruses are responsible for most of them.

The immune system attempts to suppress it when a virus enters the body. Symptoms does not grow in a person with a strong immune system.

However, signs of infection will occur if the immune system can not fight off the virus.

Risk factors

At any time of year, colds can impact everyone, but certain variables can increase the risk:

  • being a young child or an older adult
  • having a weak immune system
  • seasonal factors, as colds are more common in winter
  • having close contact with someone who has a cold

Complications

A cold is not usually extreme, and after 7-10 days, colds often vanish. However, occasionally, complications can occur. These are more likely to affect someone with an immune system that has weakened.

They include:

A cold, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, can worsen the symptoms of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Prevention

Since too many viruses can cause a cold, the production of a vaccine is difficult.

However to help avoid catching a cold, individuals should take precautions.

These include:

  • Avoiding close contact with anyone who has a cold.
  • Following a healthful and varied diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Always sneezing or coughing into a tissue, then discarding the tissue carefully and washing your hands at once.
  • If there is no tissue available, coughing or sneezing into the upper shirt sleeve, covering the nose and mouth completely.
  • Washing hands regularly with soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Keeping surfaces at work and in the home.
  • Avoiding touching the face, especially the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Treatment

There is no cure for a cold, but medication can help with symptom management.

Here are some tips:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Use over-the-counter medications to manage pain and discomfort.
  • Inhale steam, which may help relieve nasal congestion.
  • Gargle saltwater for a sore throat.

Various natural remedies for colds are used by people. Some can provide relief, including drinking warm lemon and honey. Not all of them, however have empirical proof that indicates that they are useful.

Depending on the type of complication, if people develop complications, a physician can prescribe antiviral medication or antibiotics.

When to consult a doctor

There is no need for most individuals to see a doctor for a cold. However, this can be a sign of a complication if symptoms intensify or become more severe.

  • a cold lasts longer than 10 days
  • a child is under 3 months of age and has a fever or lethargy
  • symptoms are severe or unusual
  • there is a high fever

Anyone who has trouble with breathing should call the emergency department at once.

Is it a cold or the flu?

The symptoms of a cold and the flu can be similar.

However, flu symptoms tend to:

  • appear more suddenly
  • be more intense
  • last longer
  • include a fever and body aches

Flu vaccinations are available from pharmacies or the doctor’s office. To protect themselves, most individuals should consider getting an annual vaccine.

Takeaway

From time to time most people experience a cold. A cold is not typically serious, but in older people and those with a compromised immune system, it can lead to complications.

There is no cure for a cold, but medication will offer relief from symptoms on a temporary basis. Hand-washing and other practices of hygiene may help to avoid a cold.

Back to top button