Common Cold

Table of Contents

What is Common Cold?

Common cold is when you develop a viral infection in your nose and throat (upper respiratory tract). The common cold is not life threatening, but it can cause discomfort. This disease is caused by various types of viruses.

In general, people will recover from the common cold in seven to ten days. Symptoms of common cold may last longer if you are an active smoker. 

Causes of Common Cold

Although there are many types of viruses that can cause the common cold, the most common one is the rhinovirus. This virus enters your body through your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can spread through tiny droplets when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or speaks

The virus can spread through physical contact with someone who is ill, or through contaminated items such as cutlery, towels, toys or cell phones. If you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after physical contact, you are more likely to catch the common cold.

The following are some factors that can increase your risk of getting the common cold:

  • Age. Children under the age of six run higher risk to catch the common cold, especially if they are in child care
  • Weak immune system. If you have a critical illness or a weakened immune system, you could potentially get the common cold.
  • Weather. During the rainy season, either children or adults run higher risk to develop a common cold. However, common cold can occur at any time, regardless of the season or weather. 
  • Smoking habit. If you smoke or are frequently exposed to secondhand smoke, you are more likely to catch a common cold. 
  • Crowded places. You might be exposed to a virus that causes common colds. 

When to See a Doctor for Common Cold

For adults, consult a doctor immediately if you:

  • Have a fever above 38.5 degrees Celsius
  • Have a fever that lasts more than five days or more, or recurrent fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Make wheezing sounds 
  • Experience hoarseness
  • Feel dizziness

Usually, children do not need to see a doctor when they have the common cold. However, it may be necessary to take your child to see a doctor if: 

  • Your newborn has fever above 38 degrees celsius 
  • Fever that lasts more than two days
  • Symptoms that do not improve 
  • Headache or cough
  • Wheezing sounds when breathing 
  • Ear pain
  • Becomes more fussy than usual
  • Looks tired and sleepy
  • Loss of appetite

There are several complications from the common cold. If you experience any, consult your doctor immediately. Possible complications may include:

  • Ear infection. This occurs when bacteria enter the back of your eardrum. If you have an ear infection, you will feel pain inside the ear. In some cases, yellowish or greenish discharge will come out of your nose, or you will develop a fever.
  • Asthma. If you have asthma and you have a common cold,  asthma attacks may recur.
  • Sinusitis. In adults and children, common cold that does not get better will lead to inflammation and infection of the sinuses.
  • Other secondary infections. These infections include strep throat, pneumonia, or bronchiolitis in children. They will require medical attention.

Symptoms of Common Cold

Symptoms of the common cold usually appear within 1-3 days after a person is exposed to the virus. Symptoms vary from person to person. These symptoms include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Mild headache
  • Sneezing
  • Low grade fever
  • Generally feeling unwell

If the cough gets worse, the discharge from your nose may become thicker and yellow or green. However, note that this is not an indication of a bacterial infection.

Treatment for Common Cold

Treatment options for common cold may include the following: 

  • Apply cold balm on your back or chest. If you want to apply it on your nose, be careful not to touch your nostrils as you will feel uncomfortable.
  • Consume mints containing menthol. Menthol can clear nasal congestion.
  • Take vitamin C to relieve symptoms and speed up the recovery 
  • Consume cold cough medicine that can be found at the pharmacy. If you want to clear a congested nose, you can look for medications that contain decongestants. If you want to relieve fever and pain, look for medications that contain paracetamol. If you are unsure of finding your own medication, try asking your pharmacist. Be sure to follow the instructions as recommended on the packaging 

Treatment Cost for Common Cold

Treatment cost for the common cold does not cost much as it is not a chronic, life-threatening disease.

For more details regarding the estimated treatment cost for common cold, hospital recommendations, and making doctor’s appointments, contact Smarter Health.

Prevention of Common Cold

The following ways can be practised to prevent the common cold: 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water. Teach your children to do the same. You can use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • Disinfect items around your house. You should also clean your child’s toys regularly.
  • Cover your mouth with tissue every time you cough and sneeze. Do not forget to wash your hands afterward. 
  • Avoid sharing food and cutlery with other people when you are sick. 
  • Maintain a distance from people who have a cough or flu.
  • If you are leaving your child at a daycare, make sure its environment is clean and hygienic.
  • Maintain your health by getting enough exercise, eating regularly, managing your stress, and getting enough sleep. 

Home Remedies for Common Cold

Maintain your room temperature. If your room temperature is too cold, it will cause an even more runny or stuffy nose. You can inhale hot steam by running a hot shower and inhaling the steam or by boiling a few cups of water then pouring the steaming water into a large bowl. Steam inhalation may be an effective way to clear up your nasal passages.

When sleeping, use an extra pillow to prop your head up a bit higher than normal. Please note that this method is not recommended for infants. 

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