Colds: Overview, symptoms, causes and prevention
The common cold is a viral infection of the nose and throat .The disease is not usually too serious, although the person may not feel the same way. Many viruses can cause this cold.
Children under the age of 6 are most at risk of catching a cold, but healthy adults can also get two or three colds a year.
Most people recover from a cold in about a week or 10 days. Symptoms may last longer in smokers.
The symptoms :
Symptoms of the common cold to become visible one to three days after exposure to the virus that causes colds. Signs and symptoms, which can vary from person to person, include:
Runny or stuffy nose.
Swollen lymph nodes.
Mild body aches or mild headaches.
Feeling unwell (discomfort).
The discharge from your nose may become thicker and yellow or green during a common cold.
When should you see a doctor?
For adults – see your doctor if you have:
Fever over 101.3 F (38.5 C)
Fever that persists for five days or more or returns after a fever-free period
Shortness of breath
Severe sore throat, headache or sinus pain
For children – in general, your child does not need to see a doctor for the common cold. But seek medical consideration right away if your child has any of the following signs:
Fever 100.4 F (38 C) in infants up to 12 weeks
High fever or fever lasting more than two days in children of any age
Symptoms worsen or do not improve
Severe symptoms, such as headache or cough
Although many viruses can cause the common cold, rhinovirus is the most common culprit.
Cold viruses enter your body By means of your mouth, eyes, or nose. The virus can be spread through droplets that are released into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
It is also spread by hand contact with someone who has a cold or by sharing contaminated objects, such as utensils, towels, toys, or phones. If you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after such contact or exposure, you may catch a cold.
The following factors can increase your chances of catching a cold:
Age: Children under 6 are most at risk of catching a cold, especially if they spend time caring for children.
Weakened immune system: Having a chronic illness or weakened immune system increases your risk of getting sick.
Time of year: Both children and adults are more susceptible to colds in the fall and winter, but of course you can catch a cold at any time.
Smoking: You’re more likely to catch colds and get worse if you’re exposed to second hand smoke.
Exposure: If you are around a lot of people, such as at school or on an airplane, you may be at increased risk of being exposed to the virus that causes colds.
Acute ear infection (otitis media). This happens when bacteria or viruses get into the space behind the eardrum. Typical signs and symptoms include ear pain and, in some cases, a green or yellow runny nose or a fever that returns after the common cold.
Asthma. Colds can trigger an asthma attack.
Acute sinusitis. In adults or children, an unresolved common cold can lead to inflammation and infection of the sinuses (sinusitis).
Other secondary infections. These include strep throat (streptococcal pharyngitis), pneumonia, and pneumonia or bronchiolitis in children.
There is no vaccine for the common cold, but you can take general precautions to slow the spread of cold viruses:
Wash hands: Wash your hands well and often with soap and water, and teach your children the importance of hand washing.
Disinfect your furniture: Wipe down kitchen and bathroom countertops with a disinfectant, especially if someone in your family has a cold. Wash children’s toys periodically.
Use a tissue: Sneeze and cough into a tissue. Throw away used tissues immediately, then wash your hands carefully.
Teach your child to sneeze or cough into the bend of his elbow when he doesn’t have a tissue.
Do not share: Do not share cups or drinking utensils with other family members. Use your own glass when you or someone else is sick. Write the name of the person who has a cold on a cup or glass.
Stay away from colds: Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold.
Choose your day-care canter wisely. Look for a child care facility that has good hygiene practices and clear policies about keeping sick children at home.
Take care of yourself: Eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep, and managing stress can help you prevent colds.