Avoiding and Surviving the Common Cold

by SKHC Editor on October 6, 2008

The common cold can strike at any time and is most contagious during the first 2 – 24 hours symptoms first appear. Did you know kids can get eight or more colds a year? This contagious viral infection of the upper respiratory tract is the number one reason kids find themselves at the doctor’s office and missing school.

Most people know the basics of what causes a cold, prevention, the signs and symptoms, and treatment but it’s always a good idea to review the cold hard facts.

The cause of most colds is the rhinovirus. Rhinoviruses are found in the invisible droplets in the air we breathe or on things we touch including person-to-person contact. With more than a 100 different rhinoviruses able to get past the protective lining of the nose and throat it’s best to practice good hygiene habits and common courtesy so our immune system doesn’t trigger a reaction.

How can you avoid a cold? Steer clear of people who smoke, smoking stinks! Smokers and second hand smoke victims are twice as likely to catch a cold and suffer worse and longer lasting symptoms. Thorough and frequent hand washing, covering mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing (aim for the shirt sleeve not the hand), and not using the same towels, utensils or drinking cups will also help. No one wants to pick up a dirty tissue but sometimes you have to and when you do, wear gloves.

No matter how hard you try to avoid a cold sometimes you still find yourself with one. Cold symptoms generally appear after 2 – 3 days of initial contact. The first symptoms of a cold are generally a tickle in the throat, runny or stuffy nose and sneezing. Colds can lead into more symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, headache, mild fever, fatigue, muscle aches, loss of appetite and a change in nasal discharge.

What you can do to ease the pain of cold symptoms:

  • Saltwater drops/saline nose drops in the nostrils to relieve nasal congestion
  • Cool-Mist humidifier to increase air moisture
  • Petroleum jelly on the skin under the nose to sooth rawness
  • Hard candy or cough drops to relieve sore throat
  • Warm bath or heating pad to sooth aches and pains
  • Steam from a hot shower to help you breathe more easily

Medicine such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen and decongestants such as Benadryl won’t cure the common cold but can be used to relieve muscle aches, headache and fever. Please make sure you follow the package recommendations accordingly so you avoid adverse reactions.

Chicken soup contains a mucus-thinning amino acid called cysteine which explains why sick people have been promoting it for over 800 years. At the end of the day, eat when you’re hungry, drink plenty of fluids (except caffeine, it causes frequent urination thus defeating the purpose) and get lots of rest. Some colds last as long as two weeks but most run their course in one week.

Source: KidsHealth


skhc October 6, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Do all those antibacterial products like Purell work? I see on the site that there are items like DepHyze that claim 99.99999 kills. Thats a lot better than most consumer products> I’d love to know what healthcare workers in the field think about these products and if they can help protect us from colds or are they just marketing hype?

Enfermero escolar October 28, 2008 at 1:07 pm

Benadryl IS NOT a decongestant. In fact it can worsen congestion. Pseudoephedrine would be a more appropriate suggestion. Otherwise, good advice!

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