Common Cold - Overview
How do I relieve my symptoms of stuffy, blocked and runny nose? How do I stop this sneezing? How am I going to finish my work today? Questions hovering on your mind when suffering with annoying cold!
Sneezing, scratchy throat, runny nose—as you know are the first signs of cold, probably the most common illness known that can be caused by more than 200 viruses; highly common one being rhinovirus causing approximately 30% - 35% of all adult colds.
Common cold is medically referred to as a viral upper respiratory tract infection. It varies in its manifestation, depending upon the areas involved, the intensity of infection or inflammation.
Although common cold is usually mild with symptoms lasting for 1 to 2 weeks, it is a leading cause for doctor visits and school or work absenteeism. According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), 22 million school days are lost annually due to the common cold.
Causes of Common Cold
Cold can be caused by a lot of viruses and because new cold viruses constantly develop, the body never builds up resistance against all of them. Due to these reasons, colds are a frequent and recurring problem, in fact the most frequently occurring illness in the world.
Children in preschool and elementary school can have 6 to 12 bouts of cold per year while adolescents and adults, typically have two to four cold bouts per year. It occurs most frequently during winter and monsoon season.
Factors that lead to cold infections could be over-crowded areas, variation in weather conditions, smoke, dust, odours or pre-existing allergies, chronic sinusitis, septic tonsillitis or any related infection of the nasopharynx.
Symptoms of Common Cold
Cold takes a toll on you…
A cold attack is often sudden. It presents with frequent sneezing, throat irritation, mild fever, chilly feeling, body pain and much more.
The nasal discharge may initially be watery and plentiful. When the cold turns ripe, the nasal discharge may become thick and purulent. As the cold progresses, your sense of smell and taste may get affected and eyes may water profusely.
Common cold can include any combination of the following symptoms:
- Recurrent sneezing
- Runny nose
- Watery eye
- Throat irritation
- Body pain
- Hoarse Voice
Diagnosis of Common Cold
Your homeopath will generally diagnose a common cold based on the description of your symptoms, history of your illness (onset, duration, progress, modalities), and the findings of your physical examination.
The history of symptoms is very important in diagnosing common cold as it will help to differentiate the other conditions with similar symptoms.
Laboratory tests and image studies are generally not necessary unless there are concerns about another underlying medical condition or potential complications, such as influenza, bacterial sore throat (caused by Streptococcus pyogenes), ear infections, sinus infections or bronchitis (chest infection).
Relief with homeopathy!
Homeopathy medicine emphasises on treating the underlying imbalance in the immune system rather than simply curing an infection. The common cold responds well with homeopathy medicines which is a great advantage over other conventional medicines. Homeopaths generally give an opinion that a cold, once or twice a year is not a bad thing. There is a well-known saying which authenticates this insight, ‘Don’t cure a cold, let a cold cure you’. But we also cannot ignore the fact that your ‘ordinary’ cold might erupt into flu or pneumonia.
Both the common cold and the flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria. Symptoms of an influenza or flu virus infection may be similar to cold, but are usually severe. Flu symptoms may include high fever and severe muscle aches.
Consequently, if you consider the remedy measures ‘prevention would always be better than cure’. If you notice that you are having more than two colds a year it would be advised to seek help from a professional homeopath to strengthen your immune system.
Self Care Tips for Common Cold
The common cold and cough affects millions of people each year. Here are some self-care tips you need to be aware of:
- Prevent cold by carefully avoiding contact with cold sufferers and by remembering to frequently wash your hands.
- Drink lots of water; consume a diet with high fibre content and additional vitamin C.
- Do steam inhalation 2 to 3 times a day
- Use saline nasal drops to relieve congestion.
- Consuming green tea is highly beneficial for all those who are prone to catch cold quite often.
- Get plenty of rest – it helps you to recover quickly.
You should contact your healthcare provider if your cold continues for more than 7 days or if your symptoms include a high fever, swollen glands, severe sinus pain or a cough with excessive mucus. These may be signs of a more serious illness.
Facts and Myths
Myth: Regular exercise cannot keep cold away.
Fact: Exercise is quite beneficial for your immune system, and a current study also revealed that individuals who exercise regularly may cut their risk of getting a cold. You may not fall sick often or your symptoms will be less severe if you are an active individual.
Myth: Vitamin C and Zinc can help you keep away from cold.
Fact: You cannot keep away from common cold through Vitamin C and Zinc and Echinacea. However, all of these may help to shorten the duration of cold.
Fact: Nothing you eat can increase your mucus. It is just that when you do not have sufficient water, you may get dehydrated; consuming enough amount of water is highly essential to replace fluids lost from fever and respiratory tract evaporation and it helps to loosen mucus.
Fact: Chicken soup does ease your common cold. All warm stuff, such as tea, coffee and hot soups aid to combat cold.
Fact: Cold is caused by virus and not bacteria. Antibiotics treat bacteria-related illnesses. Antibiotics do not treat a cold. Antibiotics are needed to treat infections and illnesses that are caused by bacteria, not a cold which is caused by virus.