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The common cold is a viral infectious disease, which infects the upper respiratory tract. It is one of the most common infectious diseases affecting humans and is caused mainly by coronaviruses and rhinoviruses.
The human organism is not able to build immunity to all types of viruses that cause the common cold, which is why they are quite frequent and repetitive. As experts say, the appearance of a cold does not increase the risk of it again, but it also does not mean that will not be repeated. Also worth to know that antibiotics do not cure colds, nor accelerate recovery.
Typical symptoms of the common cold include dry throat, nose or sneezing, but even in the one-quarter of colds, does not show any of them. More than 200 different viruses can cause colds, which complications can be extremely dangerous – may appear of acute bronchitis or pneumonia. Particularly vulnerable to colds are people suffering from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Most cold lasts for 10 days, and the symptoms are frequently confused with the flu.
Symptoms of a cold
Our organism by reason of the virus reacts to the releasing of chemicals by which the blood vessels are forcing our mucous glands to work harder. During the cold, we feel a dry throat, sore throat, cough, mild fever, sneezing, may appear hoarseness, nasal congestion, and mild headaches.
Less common cold symptoms include muscle pain, seizures, redness of the eyes, weakness, lack of appetite or extreme exhaustion.
The body of each person reacts differently when is exposed to cold viruses, and even 25% of us do not feel any symptoms. Sometimes, along with the common cold appear otitis and sinusitis, known as secondary bacterial infections that may require treatment with antibiotics.
Because the cold can be caused by more than 200 different viruses, the cause can be very different. Up to 50% of colds are caused by rhinovirus, but problematic are also metapneumoviruses, coronaviruses adenovirus, human parainfluenza virus, enteroviruses, and others.
Infection occurs when the virus manages to overcome the body’s immune system. The first line of defense of our body is mucus, produced in our throat and nose by the mucous glands. It protects our organism against dust, viruses, and bacteria, but when the barrier will be defeated by viruses, they take over control by attacking our cells and proliferating, which cause illness.
Colds can lead to numerous complications, such as acute bronchitis, pneumonia, acute bacterial sinusitis as well as bronchiolitis, otitis media, or throat.
Colds can worsen the health of people suffering from a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Symptoms also exacerbate emphysema or chronic bronchitis, leading to increased cough and shortness of breath. Sometimes an extra bacterial infection may cause fever.
Preventing the common cold
Because there is a huge amount of viruses that cause colds, scientists are constantly working on the development of a suitable vaccine, which will allow us to avoid infection. Currently, there are only certain precautions we can take to avoid catching colds. These includes:
- avoiding close contact with people affected by common cold;
- a regular diet with vitamin-rich foods like fruits and vegetables that strengthen our immune system;
- throwing used tissues and washing hands with soap and water when sneezing and coughing, so as not to unnecessarily spread of germs;
- a regular hand washing can protect against colds because viruses can be passed on to others by touch;
- avoid touching face, especially the nose and mouth;
- remembering taking into account all sorts of hygiene during illness, which will help prevent the spread of disease.
Should remember that antibiotics and antivirals are not effective against most viruses that cause colds. Most often, wait out the period of the disease is the best solution. In general, it lasts 10 days, but some cold symptoms may persist for up to three weeks.
How to treat a cold?
Because the appropriate method for the treatment of colds has not been developed yet, remains only measures that can help alleviate the symptoms. Among these are:
- drinking plenty of fluids and maintaining a relevant hydration;
- rest and sleep, help strengthen the immune system while fighting viruses;
- aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen are medicines that can help alleviate headaches and reduce fever;
- inhalations can ease the swelling of the mucous membranes of the nose.