is a contagious viral infection of the upper respiratory tract
characterised by inflammation (swelling and irritation with
presence of extra immune cells) of the mucous membranes, sneezing,
and sore throat.
Viral upper respiratory infection; Common cold
incidence, and risk factors
Colds are caused by more than 200 different viruses known
as rhinoviruses. They are not caused by the same viruses responsible
for influenza ("the flu"). Colds spread through
exposure to droplets from the coughing or sneezing of others
with a cold or by hand contact with objects contaminated by
someone with a cold.
of colds is highest among children and the incidence decreases
with age because immunity to the virus causing the cold occurs
after the illness. Gradually, immunity to a wide variety of
viruses that cause colds is developed in adults. On average,
children have 10 colds a year and adults have 3.
*low-grade fever (102 F or lower)
>Note: symptoms usually last less than two weeks.
Cold symptoms should go away in a week to 10 days. Treatment
by a health care provider is not necessary unless symptoms
continue or existing respiratory conditions are worsened by
measures may relieve some of the symptoms of the cold but
will not affect the duration of the illness. These measures
include taking over-the-counter pain relievers, drinking plenty
of fluids and rest.
Antibiotics are not appropriate treatment for colds.
Symptoms usually go away in 7 to 10 days.
*aggravation of a pre-existing respiratory condition
*secondary bacterial infection
your health care provider
Use home care measures first. Call for an appointment with
your health care provider if symptoms worsen or do not improve
after 7 to 10 days, if breathing difficulty develops, or if
thick green or brown sputum develops.
There is no scientific evidence to support beliefs that avoiding
cold temperatures or drafts or taking large quantities of
vitamin C will prevent colds.
Cold or Flu?
Relief is all any of us want from a stuffy nose, hacking cough
or aching muscles. Does it make a difference if the cause
is an allergy, a cold or the flu? It makes a big difference.
Understanding the source of your particular symptoms is the
key to getting the relief you need.
You Need To Know
If you are prone to "colds" for a good part of the
year it is entirely possible that you are actually suffering
from allergies. With proper treatment your allergy symptoms
could be minimised or entirely eliminated. However, left unattended,
your allergies could develop into sinusitis or ear infections.
important to distinguish between colds and flu because untreated
flu can sometimes lead to complications such as bronchitis
or pneumonia and can even be life threatening.
are the Differences?
While the symptoms described in each of the following categories
are quite common and can be used as general indications, individual
cases may vary. If you are unsure of your situation or symptoms
persist, call your physician for treatment recommendations.
- Symptoms usually strike quickly and can include runny nose,
sneezing, wheezing, or watery and itchy eyes. You might experience
itching in the ear, nose and throat. Nasal discharges are
clear, thin and watery. Allergies occur during different seasons
depending on what you are allergic to and can last weeks or
your doctor about tests to determine the cause of your allergies
and the proper treatment. Once you know the specific "allergens"
(generally harmless substances that cause an allergic reaction),
avoidance is the best preventative. When that's not possible,
short or long term relief can be provided with both over-the-counter
and prescription drugs including antihistamines, decongestants,
and corticosteroid nasal sprays. For chronic conditions, your
doctor might recommend immunotherapy (allergy shots).
- You can usually feel cold symptoms developing over a few
days. Symptoms might be the same as those for allergies, but
without itching in the ear, nose and throat. You could have
a sore throat, cough, or mild fever. Nasal discharges are
thin and clear at the outset but change to thick, yellow or
green. Colds generally occur during the fall and winter and
should clear up in 7 to 10 days.
achieve temporary relief of symptoms with over-the-counter
antihistamines and decongestants. If symptoms don't clear
up within 2 weeks, talk to your doctor. You can minimise the
risk of catching a cold by washing your hands after contact
with cold sufferers and any objects they may have touched.
Try to avoid cold sufferers sneezing or coughing in your direction
and don't touch your nose or eyes with your fingers.
The onset of flu can be sudden and symptoms often include
exhaustion, headache and severe aches and pains. Occasionally
a stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat are added to the mixture
of symptoms. A cough is common and can become severe. High
temperatures (102-104F) can last 3 - 4 days while a general
weakness or fatigue can continue for 2 - 3 weeks.
doctor for antiviral medications to relieve flu symptoms.
To help prevent the flu, talk to your doctor about vaccination
with annual flu shots.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005