For all its findings, discoveries, and achievements, medical science still has yet to come up with a cure. Common cold occurs more often than any other disease hence, its name. There are approximately 200 viruses that can cause a cold. Most colds are caused by rhinoviruses (the name comes from “rhin,” the Greek word for nose) that are in invisible droplets in the air we breathe or on the things we touch. Aside from rhinoviruses, there are more than 100 subtypes that cause up to half of all colds. They can infiltrate the protective lining of the nose and throat, triggering an immune system reaction that can lead to sore throat, headache, and experience difficulty breathing through the nose. A common cold results from exposure to the virus. Infections are spread from one person to another, by hand-to-hand contact, or by a cough or sneeze that sprays many virus particles into the air. Its intensity, however, depends upon the state of health of the person and environmental factors.
The common cold (also called viral rhinitis) is a viral infection, characterized by nasal congestion, a clear, runny nose, sneezing, scratchy throat and general malaise. Low vitality, exposure to cold, lack of sleep, depression, fatigue, and factors such as sudden changes in temperature, dust, and other irritating inhalations are important contributory causes.
Normally, common cold symptoms can be treated at home. Antibiotics are not prescribed because they do not work against viruses, however, if the cold leads to complications such as sinusitis, ear infection, tonsilitis, or chronic bronchitis, a physician may prescribe antibiotics. Moreover, a person in good health who becomes the victim of a cold may not need to see a doctor.
To relieve the symptoms of a cold, the following self-care advice may be helpful:
Drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids to keep yourself hydrated. This is especially important for children. Water is best, but warm drinks can be soothing.
Rest and avoid stress and strenuous activity.
Keep the room at a comfortable temperature, but make sure that fresh air is circulating.
Smoke irritates the nose and throat. Try to avoid being around people who smoke and avoid smoke-filled environments like pubs or clubs. If you are a smoker, try to smoke as little as possible while you are feeling unwell,
If common cold is accompanied with coughing, a cough medicine may help to soothe a ticklish or dry cough. Over-the-counter products available from the local pharmacist are often sold as combined remedies for treating a cough and cold. Preparations may contain several ingredients and it should always follow the manufacturers instructions to make sure one is taking the right dosage for the symptoms. As so many different viruses can cause the common cold, no vaccination against it has yet been developed. However, there are some things one can do to help prevent it from spreading:
Wash your hands regularly and properly, especially after touching your nose or mouth and before handling food.
Always sneeze and cough into tissues. This should help prevent the virus-containing droplets from your nose and mouth entering the air where they can infect others. Throw away used tissues immediately and then wash your hands.
Do not share cups or kitchen utensils with others. Use your own cup, plates and cutlery.
If a cold becomes nasty, like if a person develops chest pain or starting to experience difficulty in breathing, immediately seek medical attention. A doctor will likely examine the throat and ears, and the doctor may take a throat culture by brushing your throat with a long cotton-tipped swab. This will show whether a person has a bacterial infection, which requires treatment with antibiotics. Otherwise a person battling a common cold, can treat all the symptoms at home.