The Common Cold

By: Amanda Blount

It is around this time in the season where common colds intensify and there is an increase in children missing school and adults missing work. Each year in the United States, there are millions of cases of the common cold. On an average, adults have 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more. Thankfully, there’s something you can do about it.

Symptoms:

Symptoms usually include:

  • A sore throat
  • Running nose
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Headache
  • Body aches

For some, this won’t be more than a minor annoyance. For others, even the common cold can make it hard to go to work, remain active, and maintain a healthy and nutritious diet.

Cold symptoms are mainly the reaction to the body’s response to the infection and can vary depending on which virus causes the actual infection. Symptoms usually occur 24-72 hours after the initial infection and tend to be most contagious during the first two to three days of having symptoms. The average duration of common cold symptoms is seven to ten days, though symptoms may be present for up to three weeks.

 

How the Common Cold Is Transmitted:

The common cold can be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces, shaking hands, and other personal contact or airborne by breathing in the virus from a cough or sneeze.

To help reduce your risk of catching a common cold:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, also teaching your children the importance of hand-washing.
  • Properly disinfect your home, especially when someone in your home is sick. Periodically clean children’s toys.
  • Use tissues when coughing or sneezing and discard immediately after, then washing your hands. Teach children to sneeze and cough into the bend of their elbow or using a tissue.

 

 

There is no cure for the common cold. The common cold is a self-limited illness that will resolve spontaneously with time and keen supervision. Over-the-counter medicine and home treatments are directed at relieving the symptoms related to the common cold while the body fights off the infection.

 

 

 

References:

  1. Heikkinen T, Järvinen A. The common cold. Lancet. 2003; 361(9351): 51-9.
  2. Hendley JO, Gwaltney JM Jr. Mechanisms of transmission of rhinovirus infections. Epidemiol Rev. 1988; 10: 243-58.
  3. Meadows M. Beat the winter bugs: How to hold your own against colds and flu. FDA Consumer.2001; 35(6):11-18.
  4. Kirkpatrick GL. The common cold. Prim Care. 1996; 23(4): 657-75.