There are certain viral infections, you can catch all year round, and among them are influenza and common cold. Although most people think that these are seasonal viruses that spread during cold weathers, but this is not true. Common Cold is a viral infection that attacks the upper respiratory tract, which includes your nose and throat. It is the most common of infections with mild effects over our health. Despite this— common cold results in most number of doctor visits, requires urgent care to control the transmission and in absenteeism from work or school. Researches have shown that in the United States only around 1 billion people are infected by colds every year, resulting in almost 22 million days of school absences per year. The common cold is the most common disease that results in most frequent visits to doctors which is estimated to be approximately 75-100 million doctor visits every year, the economic influence of more than $20 billion annually due to work loss. People who are infected by common cold tend to spend more time in enclosed environment which at time maximises the risk of exposure for others and even for them, because of the enclosed area the infectious virus keeps on growing and spreading.
What causes Common Cold?
Common cold is mostly spread through a number of viruses; almost more than 200 hundred viruses are known to cause common cold. However, the most common among these are “Rhinovirus,” which causes 10% to 40 % of colds and the “Coronaviruses,” from which 20 % of colds are caused. Also, there “Respiratory Syncytial Viruses,” which cause about 10% of common cold. If caused by various kinds rhinovirus, the protective layer of the nose and throat is attacked by the virus, which results in activating an immune system reaction causing sore throat, a congested nose and headaches; thus making it hard to breathe. If the air is dry due to weather conditions or other reasons, then the virus tends to spread more rapidly and gets lower resistance from our body’s immune system. This is because the dryness around the nasal area makes the virus to stick and hold to our nasal passages. The virus is spread in the form of tiny droplets in the air, that gets mixed in the air through a sick person’s sneeze, cough or through their runny nose.
Common cold is considered to be highly contagious as it transmits from person to person. There are chances that a sick person at home infects others around him. As the virus spreads in the air through sneezing and coughing, other people making contact with areas or objects contaminated by the cold germs are more likely to catch a common cold and get sick. It is not necessary that a person gets a cold because of getting wet in the cold weather or being exposed to cold, people with nasal or throat allergies can catch a common cold at any time. At times emotional stress or fatigue can also be a cause of common cold.
There may have been several times when your children came home from school, badly sneezing and coughing or you woke up in the middle of night due to an irritating scratchy throat or nose congestion. The initial symptoms of common cold: a scratchy throat, congested or runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, mucus drainage and headaches; are known almost by everyone. However severe symptoms along with these such as high fever or cramps are also a sign of influenza or flu. Other symptoms may include decreased appetite and aggression due to headache.
The common colds are usually mild in nature and will eventually go away after the virus becomes less active and the immune system restore functionality. However, there are a few things that can be done to get well and take good care of yourself.
- When infected by common cold, you will mostly feel tired and exhausted due to the headache or breathing problems. In this case, the best cure for your common cold would be a lot of rest. The more you’ll rest, the sooner you will recover.
- Due to the drainage of mucus, watery eyes and loss of appetite; it is recommended that you increase your fluid intake. You can have soups, juices and all forms of warm fluids that will help in unblocking the congestion in the respiratory tract and will also restore health.
- Consult a doctor or physician to suggest you the right medicines which will help you.
- Over the counter medicines can also be used to treat common cold. However, it is suggested that to only use medicines you know and which can be used to treat cold. In any case, it is do not use over the counter medicines to treat common cold in children less than 4 years.
- In cases of extreme congestion or stuffines, saline nasal drops and sprays can help release the pain and unblocks your congested nose.
- If you are considering using antibiotics it is recommended that you consult a doctor. As in many cases, antibiotics don’t generally work and result in more dryness leading to severe congestion.
- Natural remedies like honey or salt water gargles can help with the scratchy irritation in your throat.
- Using a humidifier can help overcome the dryness and will provide moisture to a dry congested upper respiratory tract. When using a humidifier it is recommended that you clean it properly and change the water of your humidifier daily.
- The best thing to do when infected by a common cold is to prevent it from spreading. If you have a sick person at home or at work avoid touching the objects he/she has been using.
- If you are nursing a sick person it is best to keep yourself protected by washing your hands or sanitizing them more often. Do not touch your eyes and nose if you are in close contact with an infected person to avoid the risk of exposure.
The common cold although being the common of viral infection throughout the world is not something to be considered dangerous. If taken care of properly and preventing the germs from spreading can minimize the spread of this virus.
Christine Rudolph is a content developer at Centra Care, a Florida Urgent Care Hospital. Follow @CentraCare for more updates.