Symptoms, causes, and treatment of head cold

A common cold, often known as a head cold, is a viral infection of the nose and throat. Although it is usually a mild sickness, the symptoms can have a substantial influence on daily activities.

The average adult gets two to three colds per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and children may get more.

This article examines the signs and symptoms of a head cold, as well as a variety of home remedies for alleviating symptoms.

What is it?

head cold

Head colds are caused by viruses. They are normally harmless and go gone on their own. They can, however, cause unpleasant symptoms in certain people.

Head colds can be mistaken for other illnesses such as chest colds and sinus infections. There are, nevertheless, some major distinctions.

Sinus infection vs. head cold

When a viral infection causes symptoms mostly in the head, such as a stuffy nose or a headache, it is known as a head cold.

Bacteria can grow in the sinuses, the hollow areas around the nose, producing a sinus infection if fluid builds up there.

Many of the symptoms of sinus infections are similar to those of head colds, such as a runny nose and cough. Infections of the sinuses can also cause facial pain and pressure.

Viruses, including head colds, can cause sinus infections.

Head cold vs. chest cold

When the symptoms of a cold impact the head, including the nose and throat, it is known as a head cold.

When the airways swell and mucus builds up in the lungs, it’s called a chest cold or acute bronchitis. When this happens, a person often has a loose, chesty cough that includes coughing up some mucus. Coughing in this manner aids in the clearing of the airways.

A chest cold normally clears up in three weeks.

Colds in the head and chest are caused by viruses. A head cold can quickly progress to a chest cold.

Colds in the head and chest can have a variety of symptoms:

Common head cold symptomsCommon chest cold symptoms
coughing, runny nose, and sneezingcoughing often with mucus
sore throatsore throat
headacheheadache
body achesbody aches, including chest soreness

A person may, however, have a combination of these symptoms.

Causes

A head cold can be caused by a variety of viruses, including:

Colds in the head are extremely contagious. When a person with a head cold sneezes or coughs, virus-laden droplets can fly through the air and infect others.

It is possible to get a head cold after coming into contact with surfaces or objects that have been touched by someone who has been infected with the virus. The virus can get into a person’s body through their eyes, mouth, or nose.

Symptoms

After being exposed to rhinovirus or another cold-causing virus, symptoms of a head cold occur 1 to 3 days later. These signs and symptoms differ from person to person and include:

Most symptoms can be relieved in as little as one week for some people. However, some people may have symptoms for a longer period of time.

Risk factors

Although anyone can have a head cold, and most people will get several colds throughout their lifetime, there are specific characteristics that enhance the risk of being unwell. These are some of them:

  • exposure to other people with head colds, particularly schoolchildren
  • having a weakened immune system
  • the season, as colds are more common in fall and winter
  • being under the age of 5
  • smoking

Complications

The majority of people will recover from a head cold without any difficulties. When issues do occur, they include the following:

  • Asthma attack: In asthmatics, a cold can induce an asthma attack.
  • Acute sinusitis: A persistent head cold can lead to sinusitis, a condition characterised by inflammation and infection of the sinuses.
  • Ear infection (otitis media): An ear infection can occur if the virus enters the area beneath the eardrum.
  • Other infections: Following a head cold, certain people, particularly youngsters and those with compromised immune systems, might develop secondary infections. Strep throat, pneumonia, and croup are common secondary diseases linked with a head cold that require medical attention.

Treatment

Antibiotics are useless since a head cold is caused by a viral infection. Rather, treatment tries to control symptoms and alleviate suffering.

The following are some common home cures for a head cold:

  • Rest: Resting aids the body’s healing process. Staying at home instead of going to work or school decreases the risk of spreading the illness to others.
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated aids in the relief of congestion in the nose and sinuses while also calming the throat. Staying hydrated can be as simple as drinking water or diluted juice. Warm drinks, such as teas, broths, and soups, may be very useful. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided until a person is fully recovered.
  • Saltwater gargle: A person can gargle with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 8 ounces of warm water to relieve a sore throat.
  • Pain relievers: Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can help with headaches, sore throats, and fevers. Some of medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.. When providing medicines to children, always follow the directions on the package.
  • Humidifiers or vaporizers: Coughing and congestion are relieved by using these devices, which add moisture to the air. Using a vaporizer or humidifier at night may help you sleep better. To prevent the growth of bacteria and mould, vaporizers and humidifiers should be cleaned on a daily basis.
  • Nasal sprays: Saline nasal sprays are safe for both children and adults and can help release mucus in the nose. Adults can take nasal decongestant sprays for up to three days. People should avoid using decongestant sprays for an extended period of time since it can lead to addiction or rebound congestion.
  • Supplements: To prevent or treat a head cold, many people use vitamins. Vitamin C, Echinacea, and zinc are among the most popular supplements. However, there is little evidence that taking supplements helps to alleviate symptoms.

Prevention

Although there is no way to prevent a head cold, the methods outlined below can help lower the risk of catching the virus. They may be especially important for people who are immunocompromised:

  • Stay away from infected people. To avoid contracting a head cold, keep a safe distance from someone who has one.
  • Hands should be washed frequently. Transmission of the virus is reduced by thoroughly cleansing hands with soap and hot water. Hand sanitizer with alcohol is also effective.
  • Items should not be shared. Avoid sharing glasses or utensils with others to avoid spreading cold germs.
  • When family members are sick, use disinfectant. When a family member is unwell, disinfect the kitchen counters and bathroom fixtures. It is also important to clean children’s toys on a regular basis.
  • Cough or sneeze into tissues. Germs are prevented from spreading via the air by using tissues. After sneezing or coughing, throw away used tissues right away and always wash your hands.
  • Make an effort to live a healthy lifestyle. Eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, lowering stress, and getting enough sleep can all help the immune system fight off illness.
  • Instill healthy hygiene habits in your children. Request that youngsters sneeze or cough into a tissue or the crook of their elbow to avoid using their hands to cover their lips. Encourage children to thoroughly wash their hands on a frequent basis.

When to consult your doctor

If a person or a kid experiences any of the following symptoms, they should see a doctor:

  • symptoms lasting longer than 10 days
  • severe or unusual symptoms
  • flu symptoms, including:
    • fever
    • chills
    • muscle or body aches

If a child younger than 3 months old has a fever or appears sluggish, contact a doctor very away.

Outlook

Although there is no cure for a head cold, there are a number of home treatments that can help relieve symptoms and suffering. A person can take precautions to avoid contracting a cold by limiting their exposure to viruses that cause colds.

A person suffering from a head cold might expect to recover in 7–10 days. Individuals who have severe or persistent symptoms of a head cold should see a doctor.

Conclusion

A head cold can result from exposure to a variety of viruses, the most common of which being rhinoviruses. A runny nose, headaches, and cough are all signs of a head cold.

Colds in the head aren’t dangerous and normally go away on their own. Rest, staying hydrated, and taking over-the-counter cold drugs can all help to alleviate symptoms.

Colds in the head are highly contagious and can be transferred by coughing or sneezing.

Sources:

  • https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/bronchitis.html
  • https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chest-infection/
  • https://www.asthma.org.uk/advice/triggers/colds-and-flu/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279543/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319573
  • https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html
  • https://www.aaaai.org/Tools-for-the-Public/Drug-Guide/Nasal-Sprays
  • https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/sinus-infection.html

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