By Carolina Boyd
If you’ve been feeling a bit “under the weather” this winter, it wouldn’t be unusual to worry that you may have contracted the flu or COVID-19 viruses. But after a mild cold season last winter, could you actually be dealing with a case of the common cold?
The common cold is a viral infection of the nose and throat. Though usually harmless, it can make cold sufferers feel simply awful. Adults average two or three colds every year. Infants and young children usually have more. The recovery time from a cold is between a week to 10 days. Symptoms might last longer in people who smoke. Generally, you don’t need medical attention for a common cold.
The best way to recover from the common cold is to take care of yourself while your body heals. Some ways to do that include drinking plenty of liquids, humidify the air, using saline nasal rinses and getting plenty of rest. You may be tempted to ask your doctor for a prescription for antibiotics. However, antibiotics are geared for fighting bacterial infections, whereas the cold is caused by a virus.
The cold virus enters the body through the mouth, eyes or nose. The virus spreads through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or even just talks. It also spreads by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by sharing contaminated objects or surfaces.
With vaccines available for the flu and even COVID-19, you may wonder why is there no vaccine or cure for the common cold? Well, it’s not because scientists haven’t been trying. Since the 1950s, research has been done to find the cure for the common cold. One of the difficulties in developing a vaccine for the common cold is there are at least 200 different viruses that can cause cold symptoms, including: adenoviruses, coronaviruses, parainfluenza, and rhinoviruses.
Fortunately, there are many ways that we can avoid coming down with the common cold. Those include:
- Frequent handwashing.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Clean frequently used surfaces.
- Strengthen your immune system by getting enough sleep and exercise and eating a healthy.
- Stay home when sick to make sure you don’t spread the cold to others.
If you or a loved one is battling symptoms of a cold or any other upper respiratory health issue, reach out to your Legacy Community Health provider. You can schedule an appointment online or by calling 832-580-5000.