head cold

All About Colds

How to lessen their frequency and ease their symptoms

It’s that season again — cold season! Let’s talk about what a cold is, how to prevent them, and how to treat them.

A cold is a viral infection of your sinuses/nasal passages and
throat. Sometimes it can spread into your deep throat and cause
bronchitis.

There are over 99 different viruses that can cause a cold. Because
colds often affect the nasal passages, most of the viruses that cause
colds are “rhinoviruses”; the term “rhino” means “nose.”

There is no cure for colds, so one must let a cold “run its course.” Most colds last about four to seven days.

The difference between a cold and the flu is that colds are not as
severe, don’t produce high fevers, and don’t cause significant tiredness
or fatigue. There are measures one can take to prevent the number of
colds one gets and to treat the symptoms if a cold develops.

Common cold symptoms

  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • May have mild fever
  • May have mild fatigue-tiredness
  • Nasal pressure
  • Watery eyes

Prevention

The best way to treat a cold is to prevent it in the first place. Some things that help to prevent colds include:

  • Hand washing. This is the most important thing you can do to prevent
    colds. Wash hands for at least 30 seconds. Some people sing “Happy
    Birthday” silently, twice, as a timing device as they wash their hands.
  • Get a flu shot or mist every year.
  • Don’t touch the faucet handles or doorknobs in public restrooms. Use
    a towel to turn the water off and your elbow to open the door.
  • If a sink is not available, use hand sanitizing gels.
  • Don’t cough into your hand; cough into your elbow.
  • Don’t touch your food with your hands; use eating utensils.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Eat healthy, including a daily multivitamin.
  • Clean commonly encountered surfaces regularly with disinfectant
    sprays. This includes bathroom surfaces, cell phones, doorknobs,
    refrigerator handles, steering wheels, and other commonly touched door
    handles.

Treatment

There is no cure for the common cold, so reducing aggravating
symptoms is the goal. Because colds are caused by a virus, classic
antibacterial antibiotics are useless. The following are steps to reduce
symptoms:

  • Take a pain reliever such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen or aspirin. Talk to
    your doctor before giving any child with cold symptoms a fever aspirin;
    unwanted side effects can occur.
  • Use nasal decongestant sprays. These work well to ease breathing but
    should only be used for two or three days. If used too long, the user
    can develop dependence.
  • Use cough medicines. This includes throat lozenges and liquid
    syrups. These will make you feel better, but they won’t resolve a cold
    any sooner.
  • Drink lots of fluids. Sports-like drinks, fruit juices, and warm tea
    and broths work well.  Chicken soup has been proven to make cold
    sufferers feel much better. Avoid alcoholic beverages or anything that
    can cause dehydration.
  • Take Vitamin C. 1000 milligrams a day for three to five days has been reported to be helpful.
  • Calm the throat. For sore throats, gargling with warm salt water or throat lozenges works well.
  • Get plenty of rest. Don’t over-extend yourself; allow your body’s immune system to strengthen and fight back.

We all get colds. It is a part of living. Hopefully, this information
will lessen their frequency and symptoms. Remember, if you are
concerned about any illness, contact your doctor immediately.

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