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It's A "Common" Cold

As Long As The Immune System Is Strong Enough To Fight It

Enter a room filled with people and the signs may become apparent right away. It could be a sniffle, a sneeze, watery eyes, tissues in hand. Colds are called common for a reason. They are a part of life.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 62 million cases occur in the U.S. each year. The very contagious rhinovirus is the most rampant culprit, however, colds are caused by more than 100 viruses that create different combinations of symptoms. Similar to the flu, transmission of a cold virus is via mucous membranes.

The common cold results in an upper respiratory tract infection that makes its home in the nose and throat. Typically, the illness lasts from one to two weeks. Though it creates discomfort and can ruin your day, a cold is usually considered harmless. However, for those with a weak immune system, complications are a dangerous possibility.

For centuries, chicken soup has been served to treat a cold. It is still recommended today. The combination of fluid heat, and salt may help to fight the infection.

Symptoms & Differences

What To Do & Not To Do

Cold symptoms are similar to flu symptoms. The typical differences are in severity. Even though cold sufferers may feel lousy, in general, their symptoms are milder those of the flu.

Here are common symptoms.

  • Fever - may occur and seldom goes higher than 101F.
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Sneezing.
  • Runny nose.
  • Scratchy throat.

With some cold viruses, additional symptoms may appear. They can include:

  • Coughing, post nasal drip and/or sore throat.
  • Headache, mild muscle aches.
  • Mild fatigue, never exhaustion like the flu.

Cold viruses are almost always in your vicinity. A strong immune system will help fight them off and prevent the illness. Once a person is infected by a virus, there is no magic pill to make a cold disappear. It is up to the immune system to combat the infection.

Decongestants and cough medicines sold over the counter may ease some symptoms, but they do not make the illness go away faster. Antibiotics will not help, and may make the situation worse. New antiviral drugs used to relieve flu symptoms do not (currently) work on cold symptoms.

The standard treatment for a cold is:

Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids.

For those with weakened immune systems, a common cold can lead to complications such as pneumonia, sinusitis and ear infections. So if symptoms do not improve or breathing becomes difficult, you should definitely see your doctor.

(Sources: WebMD.com, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. MayoClinic.com)