The common cold is unfortunately all too common. Just about everyone gets one sooner or later in life although they become less common as one grows older due to the fact that people acquire some immunity as they age. Many people believe that exposure to drafts or getting wet feet will cause a cold. However, the truth is doctors are not exactly sure how cold are spread but they do believe that direct contact is a major factor. What we refer to, as a cold is actually an umbrella for a group of illnesses caused by any one of almost 200 viruses. While the head cold usually affects just the nose and throat, some viruses also affect the lungs and the larynx. A cold can occur in any part of the respiratory system. Where it occurs and the type of symptoms depend on the nature of the virus that is causing the problem.
Common symptoms are a nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, and watery eyes. If these symptoms are accompanied by a fever, headache and general body aches; the problem is most likely flu and not a cold. Most colds run their course in a week to ten days. There is actually no cure for a cold. All the remedies available, home, over the counter and prescription do nothing to cure the cold. They only make the patient more comfortable with it. The same is true of home remedies such as chicken soup and Vitamin C. You should not ask your doctor for an anti-biotic as a cold is caused by a virus and viruses do not respond to antibiotics. Cold tablets, nasal sprays, and cough syrups will make your symptoms more tolerable. Doctors advise people with colds to stay home for a couple of days if possible and get plenty of rest. They should also drink lots of fluids and eat lightly. An aspirin, taken at night, will help with sleep. While over the counter remedies will provide some relief, one should be careful to stay within the recommended use. However, a person should seek a doctor's care if their temperature goes above 102 degrees F., if they develop an earache or pain in the face and/or forehead, and if they start experiencing a combination of hoarseness, sore throat, wheezing, dry painful cough or shortness of breath. They should also see their physician if a cold lasts over ten days.
People who are prone to ear infections or frequent episodes of bronchitis should call their doctor when a head cold begins as it can cause some special problems. It is also important to blow the nose properly. Always blow into a clean tissue or handkerchief. Be careful not to keep both nostrils almost closed as you blow. Press against one nostril while you clear the other. Be careful not to blow too hard. The lining of the nasal passages is very delicate and has many small blood vessels near the surface. Blowing too hard can lead to nosebleed and can also cause damage to the eardrum.