Add the misery of runny, stuffy nose, burning throat, and hacking cough to the dreary cold downpour of the rainy season and we wail, life can get better than this! As more people share the cozy indoors, they can easily share the cold virus too! During rainy days, the nose's first line of immune defenses (mucus and nasal hairs) get weaker, making one more susceptible to be infected by the annoying cold bug.
Colds are the most prevalent infectious disease. It is estimated that on average, one can get more than 50 colds during a lifetime. A whopping 200 plus different viruses can cause a cold but a group known as rhinoviruses causes almost half. The symptoms of the cold are the body’s way to get rid of the virus.
- Sneezing ejects the virus from the nose,
- Coughing from the lungs and throat,
- Vomiting from the stomach, and
- Diarrhea from the intestines.
- Fever makes it difficult for the virus to reproduce.
These symptoms usually appear 2–3 days after exposure, at which time the person is then infectious to others.
You can catch a cold by inhaling the virus if you are close to a person who sneezes, or by touching your nose, eyes, or mouth after you have touched something contaminated by infected nasal secretions. A normal course is 3-7 days unless bacterial infection occurs.
In 1956, researchers from the United Kingdom discovered the rhinovirus as the culprit of the common cold. But man has been battling colds long before that, the disease being described since 1600 BC in the Egyptian medical text Ebers Papyrus. In the 16th century, the term “cold” was used because of the similarity of its symptoms to those of exposure to cold weather. The treatment of yore? In the first century AD, Roman philosopher Pliny recommended cold sufferers to ‘kiss the hairy muzzle of a mouse’.
Different medications for colds include nasal decongestants, cough suppressants, expectorants, anti-allergies and pain relievers. Your doctor may also prescribe non-drug therapies for nasal symptoms, such as nasal salt-water sprays or mists and nasal saline irrigations.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and World Health Organization (WHO) offer these tips:
Wash your hands frequently
Practice good respiratory hygiene – cover your mouth and nose when you cough/sneeze
Go home if you are unwell or have a fever
Get yourself the flu shot – yearly!
Up your Vitamin C intake to cut the severity or duration of cold as it activates the antibodies in your body
While over the counter analgesics like ibuprofen and paracetamol may relieve the aches and pains, aspirin is not recommended, especially in children and teenagers, as it could cause a potentially fatal reaction called Reye’s syndrome. Antibiotics are not used to treat a common cold.
Do not force a child to eat when he or she has a decreased appetite due to a cold because it is unnecessary. Encourage them to drink plenty instead.
Chicken soup, used since the 12th century to combat respiratory diseases may help due to the infection-fighting benefits of the heat, hydration, and salt.
Cleaning commonly touched surfaces with disinfectant has been proven to cut the number of colds.