Common Cold: Treatments and preventive measures

Nrs Oke Ololade

This time of the year, the weather is known to be cold, dry and dusty, making most people to have running nose, catarrh and cough. Recently I wrote on sore throat and this week we will get to read on measures to take to treat and prevent common cold.

The common cold is a viral infection of your nose and throat (upper respiratory tract). It’s usually harmless, although it might not feel that way. Many types of viruses can cause a common cold but the most common virus is rhinoviruse. Most people recover from a common cold in 3 days to a week.

A cold virus enters your body through your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can spread through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks. It also spreads by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by sharing contaminated objects, such as utensils, towels, toys or telephones. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after such contact or exposure, you’re likely to catch a cold.

 Signs & Symptoms

  • Symptoms of a common cold usually appear one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus. Signs and symptoms, which can vary from person to person, might include: Runny or stuffy nose, Sore throat, Cough, Congestion, Slight body aches or a mild headache, Sneezing, Low-grade fever, Generally feeling unwell (malaise) ,Watery eyes, Mucus draining from your nose into your throat.

These factors can increase your chances of getting a cold:

  • Age. Children younger than 6 are at greatest risk of colds, especially if they spend time in child-care settings.
  • Weakened immune system. Having a chronic illness or otherwise weakened immune system increases your risk.
  • Time of year. Both children and adults are more susceptible to cold mostly in harmattan season but you can get a cold anytime.
  • Smoking. You’re more likely to catch a cold and to have more-severe colds if you’re exposed to cigarette smoke.
  • Exposure. If you are around someone who has common cold.

There is no cure for a cold. To feel better, you should get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Over-the-counter medicines may help ease symptoms but will not make your cold go away any faster. Always read the label and use medications as directed. Talk to your doctor before giving your child non-prescription cold medicines, since some medicines contain ingredients that are not recommended for children. Antibiotics will not help you recover from a cold caused by a respiratory virus. They do not work against viruses, and they may make it harder for your body to fight future bacterial infections if you take them unnecessarily.

Cold remedies for children

Ease a child’s cold symptoms with these home remedies:

Rest: Children who have a cold may be more lethargic and irritable than normal. Let them stay home from school and rest until the cold has cleared.

Hydration: It’s very important children with a cold get plenty of fluids. Colds can dehydrate them quickly. Make sure they’re drinking regularly. Water is great. Warm drinks like tea can be so relieving as a sore throat soother.

Food: Kids with a cold may not feel as hungry as usual, so look for ways to give them calories and fluids. Smoothies and soups are two great options.

Salt gargles: They aren’t the most pleasant experience, but gargling with warm, salty water can make sore throats feel better. Saline nasal sprays can also help clear nasal congestion.

Warm baths: A warm bath can sometimes help reduce a fever and ease mild aches and pains that are common with a cold.

There is  no vaccine for the common cold, but you can take common-sense precautions to slow the spread of cold viruses as adults such as:

Wash your hands. Clean your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water, and teach your children the importance of hand-washing. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

   Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. Viruses that cause colds can enter your body this way and make you sick.

Disinfect your stuff. Clean kitchen and bathroom countertops with disinfectant, especially when someone in your family has a cold. Wash children’s toys periodically.

Use tissues. Sneeze and cough into tissues. Discard used tissues right away, then wash your hands carefully.

Teach children to sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow when they don’t have a tissue. That way they cover their mouths without using their hands.

Don’t share. Don’t share drinking glasses or utensils with other family members. Use your own glass or disposable cups when you or someone else is sick. Label the cup or glass with the name of the person with the cold.

Steer clear of colds. Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold.

Take care of yourself. Eating well, getting exercise and enough sleep, and managing stress might help you keep colds at minimal.

Boost your immune system:  Eat foods rich in vitamins so as to boost your immune system such fruits and vegetables.

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