THE COMMON COLD
A ‘Cold’ is a viral infection of the nose and throat. Sneezing, coughing or hand to hand contact can easily transmit cold virus droplets from an infected person's mouth or nose. As well, cold viruses can live for several hours on hard surfaces, thus you can even get infected by picking up an object, turning a door handle, or answering a phone recently touched by a person with a cold.
In most people, a cold is relatively harmless and runs its course in 1 to 2 weeks. Cold viruses infect the tissues that line the inside of the mouth, throat, and nose causing them to become swollen and inflamed.
Cold symptoms follow a typical pattern:
- dry, scratchy, or sore throat
- runny nose or congestion
- sneezing triggered by nasal congestion
- headache and or earaches as a result of congestion
- slight fever and chills (more common in children than adults)
- coughing, usually dry at first but later can be accompanied by sputum and phlegm
- feeling tired
You should see your doctor if your cold symptoms don't improve after 10 to 14 day or if you start developing symptoms that aren't typical of the common cold, such as coughing up thick brownish sputum, getting a bad headache, or developing a high fever.
There is no cure for the ‘Cold,’ but a combination of coping strategies and medication can at least improve symptoms and keep you more comfortable.
- Bed rest for a day or two can help you feel better.
- Keep comfortably warm and drink plenty of fluids. Hot fluids, such as chicken broth, can cut down on congestion.
- A warm salt-water gargle may help manage a sore throat.
- Humidifiers can keep the air moist in an effort to soothe coughs.
- Cough and Cold Medications can be used to relieve cold symptoms, but they won't make the cold go away any faster. Please ask your community pharmacist for advice as to which ones are appropriate to take, especially if you are taking other medication.
The best way to prevent the common cold is to wash your hands frequently with warm soap and water, especially after touching objects that may have the virus on them. You can also avoid close contact with people who have colds, especially for the first few days of their cold. Also, avoid rubbing your nose and eyes with your hands. Proper exercise, rest, and nutrition will help keep your body's defense system strong and able to fend off cold-causing viruses.