We all have suffered a cold at one point or another in life. Sneezing, runny nose, sore throat…..you know you have a cold. It is not that straight forward though. There is a lot that people do not understand about this infection. For instance, why do some people get infected more often than others? What should I do and what should I avoid when I catch a cold? And above all, how can I prevent myself from catching a cold? Considering all the conflicting information available, one can’t help but get confused.
- What is a Common Cold?
A common cold is an illness caused by a virus infection. There are more than 200 types of viruses that can cause a cold. However, rhinovirus is the most common one, with an infection rate of at least 50%. Other viruses that can cause a cold include:
- Human Parainfluenza Virus (HPIV)
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
- How Does One Catch the Infection?
There are several ways that you can catch a cold. The most common one is by direct contact with someone who is already infected by the cold virus. Another way you can catch the infection is by touching surfaces such as a spoon, computer keyboard, table, etc. that are contaminated with the virus. You can also get infected by breathing in contaminated air from a cough or sneeze by an infected person. The cold starts when the virus gets to your throat or nose.
Symptoms that you may experience when you catch a cold include:
- Watery eyes
- Sore throat
- Running nose
- Stuffy nose
- Mild headache
- Low-grade fever
The symptoms may vary from one person to another. Some people will get only one or two symptoms others will get almost all. Whatever the case, the feeling is always very unpleasant. One can do just about anything to relieve the symptoms.
A lot has been said about what one should do when they have a cold. Some of it is accurate, and some of it is misleading. For the sake of clarity, below are the dos and the don’ts of having a cold.
Things to Do When You are Having a Cold
- Stay Hydrated
During a cold, your body produces more mucus in the nose and respiratory tract to try and drown the virus. Your body temperature also rises to prevent the virus from multiplying, explaining why you might get a low-grade fever. Your body loses so much fluid leaving you dehydrated.
For your own health, you need to replace the fluids you are losing by drinking plenty of warm liquids. Whether its warm water or tea, warm liquids will keep your body hydrated and reduce congestion.
- Get Enough Rest
Did you know that your body heals faster when you are asleep? That’s right. When you are sleeping, your body’s immune system produces proteins known as cytokines, which are useful in fighting infections in your body. When you have a cold, sleep for at least 7-8 hours to give your body the chance to heal faster.
- Try to Laugh
As the popular saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. When you are having a cold, try as much as possible to laugh and stay happy. If you are feeling down, relax, and watch a funny movie to try and raise your spirits. Research shows that laughing more often can boost your immunity.
Things to Avoid When You are Having a Cold
- Take Antibiotics
Under any circumstances, never try to medicate yourself with antibiotics. First of all, antibiotics do not affect common cold viruses because they are for treating bacterial infections. Secondly, without medical guidance taking antibiotics can cause antibiotic resistance or even kill useful bacteria in your body.
- Emotional Distress
While it may seem like physical wellness is all you have to think about, please note that your emotional well-being is equally as important. According to experts, there are certain things that make you susceptible to the common cold virus, and emotional distress is one of them. Others include fatigue and people with allergies.
By all means, avoid smoking when you are having a cold. Inhaling smoke directly or indirectly will only irritate your respiratory system.
- Excess Exercise
Exercise is good for your health, there is no doubt about that. And if you have a cold, some little exercise will not prevent your recovery. It might actually help you breathe better. However, too much exercise is not good for your health. Remember, your body is already losing fluids due to the high mucus production, and sweating any strenuous activity will only cause extreme fatigue and further dehydration. Limit your exercise until the time you regain your health.
- Dry Air
If you have a cold infection, avoid breathing in dry air. This will only worsen your sore throat. Use a humidifier to increase the warmth and moisture of the air around you. If you do not have a humidifier, put a bowl of water next to a heat source. As the water heats, it will evaporate and slowly humidify the air in your room.
Common colds are easy to handle. In most cases, they come and go by themselves. But sometimes they can be troublesome. You need to know when to wait for GP and when to use a house call doctor Brisbane. In general, when the symptoms persist, seek medical help. A regular cold should not go for more than a week.