|A woman blowing her nose on tissue / Photo by Michael Heim via 123RF|
The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Many different viruses can cause colds and it can also easily spread through airborne droplets from the infected person or through direct contact.
It’s reportedly the most frequently occurring disease in the world. It’s also the leading cause of visits to the doctor and missed school or work days.
In the United States alone, it is believed to be responsible for 75 to 100 million doctor visits yearly and more than $20 billion cold-related work loss every year.
What Are the Symptoms of Colds?
The symptoms of colds can vary widely depending on the virus that’s causing the infection. These may include stuffy nose, nasal drainage, sore throat, sneezing, hoarseness, cough, watery eyes, low-grade fever, headache, earache, body aches, loss of appetite, and fatigue.
Colds may also start off with a runny nose and a clear nasal discharge, which can later become yellowish or greenish in color.
|Woman suffering from colds / Photo by Viacheslav Iakobchuk via 123RF|
What Are the Causes of Colds?
There are more than 200 different types of viruses that are believed to cause colds, which makes it that much harder to build up a resistance against the viral infection. Just as the body builds up a resistance against a certain type of virus, another one may develop.
Rhinovirus is believed to cause approximately 30% to 40% of colds in adults. Other common causes include coronavirus, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and parainfluenza virus.
You can also get colds when you get exposed to the secretions of an infected person, which can be airborne after a sneeze or a cough.
It’s also possible to come into contact with objects or surfaces that have been contaminated by an infected person as the cold virus can live on objects, like books, phones, or cups, and still cause infections.
|Woman wears face mask in city / Photo by lzflzf via 123RF|
Who Is at Risk of Getting Colds?
While anyone can get colds, there are certain factors that may make you even more susceptible to catching colds. Factors like age, season, and your immune system can have an effect on how likely you are to catch a cold.
Children and adults can both get the colds, but infants and younger children are more susceptible to getting the colds because their bodies haven’t developed an immunity to many of the possible viruses that can cause it.
It’s also generally true that it’s more common to catch colds during the fall and winter or during the rainy season in warmer climates. This is not because of the cold weather, however, it’s believed to actually be because more people tend to stay indoors and in close proximities during colder seasons; this, in turn, makes it easier for the virus to spread.
Many of the cold-causing viruses are also believed to thrive in low humidity, making the colder and low-humidity seasons that much more ideal for these viruses.
|A girl with colds / Photo by Wavebreak Media Ltd via 123RF|
How to Relieve Nasal Congestion
While you know that colds aren’t usually serious, its symptoms can be mildly annoying to debilitating.
Have you ever tried doing your daily tasks while your head and body are aching and your nose is so clogged that you often feel like you have to breathe through your mouth? It can make anyone feel tired enough as it is, but it can also distract you from all the things you have to do.
The key factor to relieving your nasal congestion is to keep your nose moist, ironically. Trying to dry out your nasal passages will actually irritate it further.
You can try several things to keep your nasal passages moist like using a humidifier or vaporizer, taking long warm showers, breathing in steam from a pot of warm water, using nasal saline sprays, keeping your head elevated, and placing a wet warm towel on your face.
You should also drink a lot of fluids, which will help thin out your mucus, which could help relieve that stuffy feeling on your nasal passages.
|Woman using nasal spray / Photo by puhhha via 123RF|
How to Cure Colds
For mild to moderate cases of colds, a visit to the doctor is not really necessary. There are over-the-counter medications for colds that you can take, along with drinking lots of fluids and taking enough rest, to relieve your colds.
For more severe cases, however, such as when the symptoms may be pointing to influenza or pneumonia, it’s important to visit your doctor to figure out what’s causing the symptoms.
In general, symptoms like shaking, chills, profuse sweating, malaise, fatigue, muscle or body aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, high fever, phlegmy coughs, and chest pain necessitates a visit to the doctor.
|Sick woman with medications on table / Photo by Lenar Nigmatullin via 123RF|
What Are Good Foods for Colds?
While you may not feel like eating much when you’re down with the colds, it’s important that you drink lots of liquids to help relieve your nasal congestion and replace any lost fluids.
This can mean drinking water or you can also drink tea. Both black and green teas have antioxidants that can boost your immune system too and a cup is just perfect for warming you up on those days.
You can also eat foods with vitamin C, like strawberries, broccoli, bell peppers, and citrus fruits. If you find that you don’t feel well enough to eat a full meal, opt for a vitamin C-rich fruits like an orange.
If you want to eat something light, settle for a chicken soup or something similar. A light soup can rehydrate, warm, and soothe your sore throat too. It’s also good for keeping you full without being too overwhelming.
|Fruits rich in Vitamin-C / Photo by Baiba Opule via 123RF|