What causes a cold?
There are three main causes of the common cold, and these are all in the form of viruses. When a person gets exposed to any of these three common cold viruses and the immune system is not at its best, the body can catch the bug. Rhinovirus
- mostly active during early autumn, spring and summer, it causes 10 to 40% of colds. This nasty virus can make you feel miserable but it rarely makes you seriously ill.* Coronavirus
- it gets active during winter and early spring. It has more than 30 kinds but only 3 or 4 of these cause about 20% of colds in people. * RSV and parainfluenza
- It causes 20% of colds and are usually the more dangerous especially in young children. This virus can sometimes lead to severe infections like pneumonia if not caught and treated in its early stages.*
Symptoms of a common cold
When a person catches any type of cold virus, symptoms will not occur until after 1 to 4 days. Symptoms usually start with a burning feeling in the nose or throat, then sneezing and a runny nose. Tiredness and a general feeling of malaise are usually present. During the first few days, nasal secretions can be prolific and quite watery, and they can then become thicker and darker. A cold can also be accompanied by a mild cough.
While symptoms usually do not get any worse, they can last up to 2 weeks. Darkening of the mucous does not necessary translate to a bacterial infection, however, if this is accompanied with coughing up of dark mucous and feeling a lot of distress in the lung areas, it may signal a bacterial infection. Common colds are not accompanied with fever; in fact, if fever is present along with more severe symptoms, it can indicate flu.
When to see a doctor
It is recommended to see a doctor if:
- You notice an inability to swallow.
- You have a sore throat for more than 2 or 3 days, particularly if it seems to be worsening.
- You have an earache.
- You have a stiff neck or sensitivity to bright lights.
- You're pregnant or nursing.
- Your newborn or infant has cold symptoms.
- Your throat hurts and your temperature is 38ÝC or higher.
- Your cold symptoms worsen after the third day. You may have a bacterial infection.
Supporting the body during coughs and colds Drink plenty of fluids
- drinking plenty of water and other forms of fluids can help break up congestion, keep the throat moist and rehydrate the body. Drink 8 - 10 glasses of mixed forms of fluids. This may include water, sports drink, herbal teas, fruit drink and ginger ale. Steam inhalation
- this will help loosen up a stuffy nose. Do this by boiling water in a pot and put your head over it, then breathe in the steam slowly. Be careful not to let the heat burn your nose. It may also help to put a humidifier inside your room or take some moisture from a hot shower with the door closed. Clear up your nose
- by blowing out the mucous it will help clear up your sinus congestion. However, make sure to do it the right way. Do not blow hard as this will send germ-carrying phlegm back to your ear passages, which can then lead to earache. The best way to blow your nose is to press a finger over one nostril while blowing your nose gently. Saline spray or salt water rinse
- using these is a great way to help break up the congestion in your nose. You can either buy the commercially prepared saline spray or you can make your own. Get plenty of rest and stay warm
- rest and warmth can help your body direct its energy to fighting off the illness. This is especially true when you notice the first signs of a cold. Gargle with a warm salt water solution
- aside from drinking plenty of liquids, gargling with a solution made with half a teaspoon of salt dissolved in a cup of warm water will help soothe your sore or scratchy throat. Do this four times a day to keep your throat and mouth moist. To help calm a ticklish throat, you can use herbal tea instead of water in the solution, or add honey. Drink hot liquids
- this will help relieve congestion and soothe the inflamed nose and throat linings. Using mentholated salve
- helps open up breathing passages. Simply dab a small amount under your nose. Choose preparations that contain menthol, eucalyptus, and camphor since these all have mild numbing ingredients that will help relieve nose pain. Put an extra pillow under your head
- do this especially at night when you sleep. This will help drain congested nasal passages to help you sleep better.
What are the treatment options?
Decongestants, pain relievers and antihistamines are used to help relieve symptoms of coughs and colds. These can come in the form of oral medicine, nasal and throat sprays, and rubs and salves.
How to prevent getting colds
Most cold causing viruses are airborne. When a person is exposed to someone who sneezes or coughs, they can get the virus and develop the cold. Rhinovirus can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces. A person gets the virus by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching their eyes or nose where mucous is present. The virus then travels inside the body where it multiplies and cause symptoms.
The best way to help slow the spread of the virus is by frequent hand washing. It is also best to boost your immune system so that even if you encounter people who have colds, your body has the best support to help prevent you picking up the virus.
Page updated 06/04/18 12:47:36 p.m.