COMMON COLD? WHAT TO DO AND WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
WHAT IS THE COMMON COLD?
The common cold is a respiratory ailment caused by a virus that infects your nose and throat (upper respiratory tract). It’s normally innocuous, even if it doesn’t feel like it. It can be caused by a variety of viruses.
Each year, healthy adults should expect to get two or three colds. Colds may be more common in infants and young children.
A typical cold usually lasts a week or ten days for most people. People who smoke may experience symptoms that linger longer.
The symptoms of a common cold usually show one to three days after being exposed to the virus that causes it. The following are examples of signs and symptoms that can vary from person to person:
- A stuffy or runny nose
- Cough Congestion Sore throat
- Minor aches and pains throughout the body, as well as a slight headache
- Fever of a low intensity
- Not feeling great in general.
As it progresses, the discharge from your nose may become clear and thicken, turning yellow or green. This isn’t always indicative of a bacterial infection.
A common cold can be caused by a variety of viruses, although rhinoviruses are the most frequent.
The virus that causes a cold enters your body through your lips, eyes, or nose. When someone who is sick coughs, sneezes, or talks, the virus can spread by droplets in the air.
It can also be transferred by exchanging contaminated objects such as dining utensils, towels, toys, or cellphones with someone who has a cold. You’re more likely to catch a cold if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth following such contact.
What are the complications that come along with it?
These conditions can occur along with your cold:
- Ear infection (acute) (otitis media). When bacteria or viruses penetrate the space behind the eardrum, this happens. Earaches or the return of a fever after a cold.
- Asthma. Even if you don’t have asthma, a cold might cause wheezing. If you have asthma, a cold can aggravate your condition.
- Acute sinusitis is a condition in which the sinuses become inflamed. A common cold that does not go away in adults or children can cause swelling and pain (inflammation) as well as infection of the sinuses.
- Other infections are possible. In children, it can lead to additional diseases such as strep throat, pneumonia, croup, or bronchiolitis. A doctor will need to treat these infections.
How to Prevent it?
- Wash your hands. Hands should be washed thoroughly and frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water aren’t available. Instil in your children the value of handwashing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with your hands that haven’t been washed.
- Disinfect your belongings. High-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, electronics, and kitchen and bathroom countertops, should be cleaned and disinfected daily. When someone in your household has a cold, this is extremely crucial. Toys for youngsters should be washed regularly.
- Cover your cough with your hand. Cough and sneeze into tissues. Throw away used tissues as soon as possible, and then thoroughly wash your hands. Sneeze or cough into the bend of your elbow if you don’t have a tissue, then wash your hands.
- Don’t share. Drinking glasses and eating utensils should not be shared with other family members. When you or someone else is unwell, use your glass or disposable cups. The name of the individual who will be using the cup or glass should be written on it.
- Keep your distance from somebody who has a cold. If you have a cold, stay away from anyone who has it. When at all possible, avoid crowds. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Examine the policies of your child care centre. Look for a child care facility that follows appropriate hygiene procedures and has clear regulations about sick children staying at home.
- Make sure you look after yourself. It is beneficial to your general health to eat healthily, exercise often, and get adequate sleep.
There are several home remedies that might help you go back to normal and relieve your symptoms. Make an appointment with your doctor if you are still sick after a few weeks. Get medical attention right away if you’re having difficulties breathing, have a racing heart, feel faint, or have any other serious symptoms.
Chicken soup- Although it isn’t a cure-all, it is a fantastic option when you’re unwell. According to research, eating a cup of chicken soup with veggies, whether made from scratch or warmed from a can, can reduce neutrophil movement in the body. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that is commonly found in the body. They aid in the prevention of infection in the body. They stay more focused in the places of your body that require the most repair when they move slowly.
Ginger- The medicinal properties of ginger root have been preached for ages, but we now have scientific proof of their efficacy. A cough or sore throat might be relieved by boiling a few slices of raw ginger root or sipping hot ginger tea.
Honey- Honey has antibacterial and antimicrobial capabilities in spades. Sore throat pain can be relieved by drinking honey in tea with lemon. Honey has also been shown to be an effective cough suppressant in studies. Researchers discovered that providing children with 10 grams of honey before night lowered the intensity of their cough symptoms in one study. The youngsters slept better, which aids in the reduction of cold symptoms.
Garlic- Allicin, a chemical found in garlic, may have antibacterial qualities. Garlic supplementation may help to lessen the intensity of cold symptoms. It may even assist you in avoiding becoming ill in the first place.
Gargle- Gargling with salt water can help avoid infections of the upper respiratory tract. It also has the potential to lessen the intensity of cold symptoms. It could help with sore throats and nasal congestion, for example.
Gargling with salt water helps to loosen and minimize mucus, which is full of bacteria and allergies. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water to try this cure at home. Spit it out and swish it around in your mouth and throat. After that, spit it out.
“Over the counter” (OTC) products are those that can be purchased without a prescription. Some people concentrate on a single symptom, such as congestion or a cough. Others go after multiple targets at the same time. To discover the right one for your symptoms, use this guide.
Sneezing and a Stuffed Nose
These drugs can make it easier for you to breathe:
Antihistamines – prevent a chemical that makes your nose fill up and run. Antihistamines don’t seem to help with cold symptoms on their own, according to studies. However, when paired with a decongestant, they may be more effective. Antihistamines might cause drowsiness in some people, so be aware of the potential adverse effects. It’s possible that you won’t become weary at all. If you combine this medicine with alcohol, you will get even more drowsy. As a result, take care and exercise caution when driving or operating machinery.
Decongestants- help to reduce congestion by shrinking enlarged blood vessels in the nose. They are available as a tablet or a nasal spray. Antihistamines have the opposite negative effect of decongestants: they might make you nervous. If you take them within a few hours of going to bed, you can have difficulties sleeping. Ask your doctor if using a decongestant is safe if you have high blood pressure. Decongestant spray should not be used for more than three days in a row. Your stuffed nose may return if you do so.
A cough is usually not anything that has to be treated. In a few days, it should go gone on its own. Some over-the-counter cough treatments contain a component that inhibits the cough reflex. Others have a mucus-thinning agent in them. You could try sucking on a cough drop or hard candy; that could help. In healthy persons, cough medications seldom cause negative effects. They may cause dizziness or sleepiness in some persons. Without your doctor’s permission, don’t take them for more than a few days.
Fever and Aches
To treat minor aches and pains caused by a cold, there are two types of medications: Acetaminophen is a pain reliever. It may also aid in the opening of a stuffed nose. Many cough and cold treatments, as well as other medications, include it. Read all of the labels and make sure to follow the dose directions exactly to avoid taking too much. Aspirin and ibuprofen are NSAIDs that can help with aches and pains. Consult your doctor before taking aspirin if you are on a blood thinner. Also, do not give aspirin to children or teenagers. It can put them at risk for Reye syndrome, a rare but dangerous condition.
A sore throat can also be relieved with ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. You can either take a lozenge or apply a throat spray containing a pain medication like benzocaine.
Cold Relievers with Multiple Symptoms
Some OTC cold cures combine medications to treat a stuffy nose, cough, body aches, and other symptoms all at once. Check that you have every symptom stated on the box before purchasing a multi-symptom cold treatment. Otherwise, you risk creating a condition you don’t have with unnecessary medication.
When buying over-the-counter cold medicine, read the label carefully. Consider the following:
Ingredients- Check to check whether it contains any medications that are already present in other medications you are taking. If you take a multi-symptom cold treatment and headache medicine that both contain acetaminophen, for example, you might be taking more than you need. Your liver may be harmed as a result of this. Check the other ingredients as well, especially if you have an allergy to colours or flavourings.
Uses- Learn what symptoms the drug is intended to treat. Only take medications that address the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Instructions- Find out how much of the medicine you should take and how often you should take it. Take only as much as the package suggests.
Warnings: Learn about potential adverse effects and who should avoid using the product.
When to see a doctor
For adults — generally, you don’t need medical attention for a cold. However, seek medical attention if you have:
- Symptoms that worsen or fail to improve
- Fever greater than 101.3 F (38.5 C) lasting more than three days
- Fever returning after a fever-free period
- Shortness of breath
- Severe sore throat, headache or sinus pain
For children — in general, your child doesn’t need to see his or her doctor for a cold. But seek medical attention right away if your child has any of the following:
- Fever of 100.4 F (38 C) in newborns up to 12 weeks
- Rising fever or fever lasting more than two days in a child of any age
- Severe symptoms, such as headache, throat pain or cough
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
- Ear pain
- Extreme fussiness
- Unusual drowsiness
- Lack of appetite
Although the common cold is not a serious disease, it can intensify and lead to more serious illnesses if left untreated. If your symptoms worsen or if you acquire new ones, contact your doctor. If your symptoms don’t improve in a few days, see your doctor because you could have a different type of illness.