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Fri Jun 07 2019

What is a common cold?

The common cold is a viral infection of nose and throat caused by several families of viruses. The virus family that is responsible for up to 40 per cent of colds is called rhinovirus and it has over 100 distinct virus types. It is a self-limited contagious disease. The common cold is the most frequently occurring disease in the world, and it is a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from school and work. Children younger than six are at greatest risks of cold. However, healthy adults can also expect to have two-three colds annually. Most people recover from a common cold in a week or 10 days. Symptoms might last longer in people who smoke. If symptoms do not improve, see your doctor.


The symptoms typically begin two or three days after exposure to the cold-causing virus. Over half of patients start by developing a sore throat followed by congestion in the sinuses. These symptoms are usually accompanied by fever, cough, and hoarseness which may outlast them sometimes by a few weeks. High fevers are, however, rare from the common cold alone. Signs and symptoms, which can vary from person to person, might include:

  1. Stuffy nose or nasal drainage
  2. Sore or scratchy throat
  3. Sneezing
  4. Hoarseness
  5. Cough
  6. Watery eyes
  7. Low-grade fever
  8. Headache
  9. Earache
  10. General fatigue
  11. Congestion
  12. Decreased appetite
  13. Post-nasal drip

The signs and symptoms of a common cold in infants and adults are almost similar, but there can be some other signs that will let you know if it is getting worse.


  1. Fever greater than 101.3 F (38.5 C)
  2. Fever lasting five days or more or returning after a fever-free period
  3. Shortness of breath
  4. Wheezing
  5. A severe sore throat, headache or sinus pain


  1. Fever to 100.4 F (38 C) in newborns up to 12 weeks
  2. Rising fever or fever lasting more than two days in a child of any age
  3. Symptoms that worsen or fail to improve
  4. Severe symptoms, such as a headache or a cough
  5. Wheezing
  6. Ear pain
  7. Extreme fussiness
  8. Unusual drowsiness
  9. Lack of appetite


The common cold generally runs without any complication but if in any case, it spreads to the chest, sinuses or ears, then it can lead to many complications such as:

  1. Ear infection
  2. Chest infection
  3. Sinusitis
  4. Asthma
  5. Strep throat
  6. Pneumonia
  7. Bronchitis


At the initial stage, the common cold and flu are similar. Even though the symptoms are similar for both the cases. They are indeed both respiratory illnesses and can cause similar symptoms. However, different viruses cause these two conditions, and your symptoms will gradually help you differentiate between the two.

  1. Flu has more severe symptoms than a common cold. Colds rarely cause additional health conditions or problems. The flu, however, can lead to sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, and sepsis.
  2. Cold can be treated by several medications such as over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications, or by staying hydrated, and getting plenty of rest. Whereas flu can be benefited from taking an OTC flu medicine early in the virus’ cycle. Rest and hydration are also very beneficial for people with the flu. Much like the common cold, the flu just needs time to work its way through your div.


It is important to realize that both antibiotics and antiviral medications are ineffective against most viruses that cause the common cold. A cold normally lasts up to 10 days; however, some symptoms can stay as long as 3 weeks.

Although there is no real way of treating or curing a common cold, the following measures may help ease the symptoms:

  1. Drink plenty of fluids and keep well hydrated, being dehydrated when infected with a cold can make symptoms worse.
  2. Get plenty of bed rest; it is important to get as much sleep/rest as possible while the immune system is fighting off the virus.
  3. Take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to relieve a headache or fever. Do not give aspirin to children under 16.
  4. Some people find that inhaling steam helps ease the symptoms of nasal congestion.


There is no specific treatment for the common cold, not even a vaccine for it. There are various ways by which you can prevent or treat the common cold. The main precautions that can be taken during a common cold are:

  1. Avoid close contact with someone infected with a cold.
  2. Eat plenty of vitamin-rich fruit and vegetables to help keep the immune system strong.
  3. When sneezing or coughing, make sure it is done into a tissue. Discard the tissue carefully and wash your hands.
  4. If you sneeze into your hands, make sure you wash them with soap and water immediately.
  5. If you have no tissues or a handkerchief, cough into the inside (crook) of your elbow rather than your hands.
  6. Wash your hands regularly; cold viruses can be transmitted from one person to another by touch.
  7. Keep surfaces in your home clean — especially in the kitchen or bathroom.
  8. Avoid touching your face, especially your nose and mouth.


When you are unwell, you may not like any food, but it is necessary to take proper meals to energize yourself. The food items you should eat during the cold are:

  1. Chicken noodle soup
  2. Hot tea
  3. Yoghurt
  4. Popsicles
  5. Gargling with salt water
  6. Food rich in vitamin C

You can consult the best physician at Radix Healthcare in order to help you cure a cold.

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