One of the most common illnesses that have hindered humans for centuries is the common cold. The average adult suffers from it two to four times annually while the average child comes down with common cold between six to twelve times per year. In this article you will learn about the causes of this disease, its symptoms and the best ways to minimize them.
Common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection that is caused by various viruses, especially different types of rhinoviruses. Since there are more than two hundred viruses that cause common cold and these keep mutating and developing, the body cannot build immunity to all of them. The viruses that cause the common cold are airborne, i.e. they are carried in the form of droplets or aerosols. Either breathing in these droplets or coming into direct contact with an object that has been contaminated by a patient can transmit the disease. Two to four days after an individual develops the symptoms of common cold, including a runny nose, cough, sore throat, mild fever, nasal congestion, and sneezing, the rate of contagiousness drops significantly if the cause of the illness is a rhinovirus.
This illness is highly contagious, therefore the best ways to avoid getting infected is frequent hand washings and keeping a distance from common cold patients if and when possible. Common cold is a self-limited disease, indicating that it runs a limited and definite course and goes away on its own. The usual course lasts seven to ten days although some symptoms, especially coughing, might persist up to three weeks. There are no known cures and only the symptoms can be treated by resting, drinking fluids, gargling, and taking cold medicines. Among over-the-counter medicines, acetaminophen and ibuprofen are safe for children if taken in the suggested dosages, but aspirin should not be administered. Saline nose drops and cool humidifier can be used to bring relief from nasal congestion and heating pads can help alleviate pains in the body. In short, help the patient feel more comfortable and remain well-hydrated, but otherwise let the illness just take its course.