Jog down your memory lane and count the number of days you must’ve missed due to something as common as common cold. A common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, the nose, and throat. Preschool children are found to be at higher risk of frequent cold infections, but healthy adults can get it too in every year.
Common cold facts
• Another name of common cold is infectious rhinitis that is viral infection of nose and throat
• Doctors name it as self limiting condition because it only lasts so long and goes back on its own
• They are harmless and it is been estimated that about 40% of the time lost from work and 30% of absence from schools is largely due to common cold
• Cold is not caused by only one virus but there are over 200 different viruses causing it. The most common type is rhinoviruses, causing about 40% of colds in adults
• The symptoms caused by cold usually improve within one week or some of it may take as long as two weeks
• Antibiotics may not be necessary for common cold
• Winter season does not necessarily cause common cold
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Common cold is communicable and it spreads if you come in direct contact with an infected person. Transmission from one person to other sometimes also occur when a person who has the cold blows or he touch his nose and then immediately touch someone else. A healthy man who comes in direct contact with these secretions can quickly get infected if the contaminated hands make contact with their own eyes, nose or mouth. Sharing same utensils, toys, handkerchiefs and towels of the infected person can also transmit the disease.
Symptoms of common cold
The symptoms appear after two or three days from the exposure to cold causing virus which are as follows:
• Runny nose
• Coughing or sneezing
• Sore throat
• Watery eyes
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Whereas less rare symptoms include: muscle ache, shivering, pink eye, extreme exhaustion and slight reduction in appetite. Most of the colds are mild and do not lead to any health problems but in some rare cases of adults and older children it may lead to: infection of the sinuses causing pain in face and head, infection of tonsils, chest infection or pneumonia and worsening the condition of asthma. In many young children middle ear infections are a common complication of cold, so it is important that one may visit a doctor before it gets late.
Treatment for common cold
As mentioned earlier here, for most of the people, common cold gets better within a week or two. However, there are treatments available that may provide a big relief to the symptoms like runny nose or cough. Medicines for cold will provide temporary relief to the symptoms and has to be taken immediately the moment you feel cold is coming on. But specifically there is no cure for cold as the antibiotics which treat infection caused by bacteria do not work on cold viruses. Supplements to cure cold and some home remedies can be taken for making situation better.
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Remedies for cold
• Astragalus – Astragalus root has been used for long in the traditional Chinese medicine to prevent cold and flu. As per the study the antiviral properties in astragalus stimulates our immune system and protects us from several diseases. The remedy is also suggested for conditions like heart disease. It can be easily found in capsule, tea or extract form at health food stores. You could try having a bowl of soup boiled with astragalus root throughout winter season to prevent cold. Astragalus has the tendency to enhance the potency of antiviral medicines like interferon by worsening the side effects of these medications such as kidney failure or others. It could also lower the blood glucose or blood pressure by increasing the effects of diabetes or blood pressure drugs.
• Zinc lozenges – Zinc is that important mineral or supplement to cure cold which is needed by more than 300 enzymes in the body. A food that naturally has zinc in it includes: meat, seafood, eggs and liver. Also the recommended daily allowance is found to be 12mg for women and 15mg for men (the amount typically found in multivitamin). This remedy can be easily found in any health store, online stores or any drug store marketed as cold remedies. The study says that those who consume zinc within 24 hours after the appearance of cold symptoms got much relief from their symptoms. Also zinc lozenges that have been used in the studies contained a minimum of 13.3 mg of elemental zinc. They were to be taken every two hours in a day after the beginning of cold symptoms. Also they contain zinc gluconate or zinc acetate which has 3.3 mg of elemental zinc in every lozenge. The recommended intake is single lozenge in every two to four hours during the day, and that too for the maximum of 6-12 lozenges every day. Keep in mind that the zinc lozenges should not be taken for long term use as the supplement in excess of 15mg per day could interfere with the absorption of copper mineral leading to copper deficiency.
• Honey – Honey is the most effective home remedy for cold and cough coming since ages. The studies and evidence show that honey may help to calm children’s coughs and let them sleep better. Honey has antioxidants and antibacterial effects which could work as a miracle remedy for common cold sufferers. But it is not recommended for infant younger than a year old due to the risk of botulism. Also do not use honey on regular basis, as it may lead to development of cavities.
• Garlic – Garlic is another popular home remedy for cold. You do not require any drugs for cold; rather try chicken soup with lots of garlic or a drink made primarily with crushed garlic. Allicin is the cold fighting compound in garlic having antibacterial and antifungal properties. In order to maximise the amount of compound, fresh garlic can be chopped or crushed and it should be raw. Whereas it’s also available in pill or drug form. Garlic does not have any side effects, but sometimes it may cause bad breath, headache, chills and body odour. Pregnant women should not have garlic in supplement form because it may enhance the risk of bleeding.
Apart from the medicines for cold or the home remedies prescribed, one should stay alert and follow some preventive measures to reduce the risk of common cold.
How to prevent common cold?
• Always stay active and avoid close contact with the one infected with cold
• Keep your immune system strong, eat lots and lots of green vegetables or vitamin C rich fruits
• Discard the tissue while sneezing or coughing and wash hands after it
• If you sneeze into your hands, make sure you wash it well using dettol soap
• Try to avoid touching face, nose or mouth
By keeping the preventive measures in mind, one could lead a happy healthy life and prevent common cold from spreading amongst him and others.