Health Talk | Putting an end to the common cold

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Are you currently deal­ing with a runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, a weakened sense of taste and smell, a sore throat or watery eyes? Well, if you are exhibiting any or all of these symptoms, then there is a pretty good chance that you have a common cold. But don’t worry; you’re not alone!

According to the Mayo Clinic, a common cold is a “viral infection of [a per­son’s] upper respiratory tract,” and is most common between the months of Sep­tember and May.

Although it has been proven that more than 200 viruses can cause a com­mon cold, most colds are caused by the rhinovirus. Rhinoviruses are found in invisible droplets in the air we breathe or on things we touch.

Once a virus finds its way into a person’s im­mune system, a cold can last anywhere from one to two weeks depending on the se­verity of the case.

As stated by American Lung Association, colds are highly contagious. This is why they account for more visits to the doctor than any other condition in the Unit­ed States. While adults typi­cally average two to four colds per year, young chil­dren suffer an average of six to eight colds per year.

It is important to under­stand that catching a cold cannot happen by not wear­ing a jacket when it is chilly out or going outside while a person’s hair is still wet. These are just old myths.

Since a cold virus can enter a person’s body through their mouth, eyes or nose, it is highly suggested to practice good hygiene by regularly washing your hands, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing and avoiding any objects an infected person may have used or touched. Although colds are most contagious within the first two to four days after symptoms appear, it is still a good habit to get into.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Pre­vention, “since the common cold is caused by a virus, an­tibiotics will not help it get better.”

This is because antibi­otics are only used for ill­nesses that are caused by bacterial infections. As a result, there are other forms of treatment used to treat a common cold.

Even though over-the-counter medications won’t cure a common cold, they will provide temporary re­lief or help make it go away sooner rather than later. These include pain reliev­ers, decongestant nasal sprays and cough syrups.

Other remedies as sug­gested by the Mayo Clinic include: drinking lots of flu­ids, eating chicken soup, ad­justing the room’s tempera­ture and humidity, gargling saltwater, using saline nasal drops and simply resting.

By drinking lots of flu­ids such as water, juice and broth, a person is replacing the fluids they lost during mucus production or fe­ver. On the other hand, it is critical to avoid alcohol and caffeine because these can cause dehydration. Eating chicken soup helps by act­ing as an anti-inflammatory and temporarily relieving congestion in the nose. By keeping the air warm and moist, this will help ease congestion and coughing. Also, cold viruses do not thrive well in this type of environment in general. Finally, gargling saltwater simply alleviates a sore and scratchy throat while saline nasal drops helps relieve na­sal congestion.

Although all of these remedies may help relieve common cold symptoms, rest and time are the key players in getting a person all better. This is because the only true way to beat a cold is to wait it out. If you follow all of these tips, you will be feeling better in no time!



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