COMMON COLD

Common cold at first looks similar to flu. They are both respiratory diseases and can induce related symptoms. However, separate viruses cause these two diseases, and the signs will eventually allow you to distinguish between the two. Typically a lot of viruses can take hold inside our nose, mouth, throat, or lungs and cause cold symptoms. Many individual get over cold with no major difficulties. And if your child is done with common cold, it will be difficult to know when the symptoms warrant a visit to the hospital.

SYMPTOMS OF COMMON COLD

The symptoms include:

  • Sneezing

  • Coughing

  • Sniffling and runny nose

  • Sore throat

  • Chest congestion

Common cold can also cause fever in infants. But adults don't usually have a fever when they have cold.

CAUSES OF COMMON COLD

A vast number of viruses cause the common cold. It is not a particular illness, but rather a collection of diseases with common symptoms. Rhinoviruses cause the largest number of colds; more than 100 distinct strains or types of rhinoviruses are present. While individual strains of viruses that cause common cold produce immunity, a person can get a cold several times over his or her lifetime due to subsequent infection with other viruses or viral strains.

Average adults have two or three colds a year while otherwise healthy children can have between 8 and 12 colds per year.

Children under six years of age have an average of six to eight colds a year (up to one per month, from September to April), with effects lasting an average of 14 days. 

Colds are spread mainly from person to person by hands contaminated with nasal secretions. Cold viruses are highly contagious and can spread easily through regular breath, coughing, sneezing and by rubbing the contaminated surface. Below is an illustration of how far a breath droplet can travel and cause the virus to spread. 

COMMON COLD COMPLICATIONS

  • Pneumonia or bronchitis (infections of the lungs)

  • Ear infections

  • Worsening of asthma symptoms

  • Sinus infections

COMMON COLD PREVENTION

Basic hygiene measures can help avoid infection by viruses that cause colds. These steps shall include:

  • Hand washing is an essential and highly effective way to prevent infection from spreading. Hand should be washed with water and soap for 15 to 30 seconds. More attention should be given to fingernails, and the wrists. Hands should be properly rinsed and dried with single-use towel.

  • Alcohol-based hand rubs are a good substitute for hand washing if a sink is not available. Hand rubs can be applied over the whole surface of the palms, fingers, and wrists and can be used several times. These rubs can be used consistently without skin inflammation or lack of effectiveness.

  • When sneezing or coughing, tissues can be used to protect the mouth. Such tissues used should be disposed of promptly. Sneezing/coughing in the cuff of one's clothes (inside the elbow) does not contaminate the hands and is a safe way to absorb sprays of saliva and secretions.

TREATMENT OF COMMON COLD

Many therapies are designed to mitigate any of the effects of the cold but do not reduce or heal the cold. Antibiotics are not suitable for the prevention of common cold; antibiotics are only used to cure infections caused by bacteria, not viruses. Few patients may experience allergic responses, diarrhea, or other stomach problems due to multi-system effect of viruses.

The symptoms of the cold resolve over time, even without any medication. 

Evidence based non pharmacologic interventions:

Following can help prevent or treat cold symptoms.

  1. Vitamin D supplementation helps reduce incidence of upper and lower respiratory tract infections and asthma flare ups. 

  2. Zinc supplements have shown to be effective in reducing episodes of cold in children.

  3. Probiotics: Studies show that lactobacillus casei and lactobacillus rhamnosus (found in fermented products) can reduce incidence of cold and need for antibiotics.

  4. Gargling and proper hydration provide symptom relief and reduces need for antibiotics.

  5. Following interventions have proven to be helpful for individuals under physical stress (doing physically demanding jobs, athletes, marathon runners).

    • Vitamin C​

    • Garlic

    • Euchinacea 

Important Notice:

This website and its contents are for the purposes of general information and education only and are not to be used for diagnosis or treatment without the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Email drdar@drdarmd.com for general information

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