Sneezing, scratchy throat, runny nose — everyone knows the first miserable signs of a common cold. But what is a common cold really? The common cold is a group of symptoms in the upper respiratory tract caused by a large number of different viruses. Although more than 200 viruses can cause the common cold, the perpetrator is usually the rhino virus, which is to blame for causing 10% to 40% of colds.
Although the common cold is usually mild, it is a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from school and work. Although the doctor cannot prescribe antibiotics for the cold and they do not treat bacterial viruses.
You can catch a common cold from another person who is infected with the virus. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release droplets of mucus into the air, or into their hand if they use their hand to cover their mouth. If you get these droplets on your hand (for example, by shaking hands or touching contaminated objects such as doorknobs), you can pass them into your eyes or nose when you touch them.
A cold begins when a cold virus attaches to the lining of your nose or throat. Your immune system sends white blood cells out to attack this germ. Your nose and throat get inflamed and produce a lot of mucus. With so much of your body’s energy directed at fighting the cold virus, you’re left feeling tired and miserable.
While getting cold or wet is not a cause of common colds, there are factors that make you more susceptible to catching a cold virus. For example, you are more likely to catch a common cold if you are excessively fatigued, have emotional distress, or have allergies with nose and throat symptoms.
When your nose feels blocked, it isn’t because it’s full of mucus, but because the blood vessels in your nose are inflamed.
The nasal lining is made from erectile tissue (similar to the tissue in the sexual organs). When you have a cold, the blood vessels swell up as infection-fighting white blood cells flood to the area. This narrows the air passage in your nose and restricts the airflow as you breathe.
Most of us touch our eyes and nose more often than we realise. A duct links the eyes and the nasal cavity, and the virus travels easily from the eye to the nose and throat, where it can cause infection. You can help avoid being infected by washing your hands thoroughly.
Many tablets and medicines are available to treat a cold but scientists have said that they will ease the symptoms but will not shorten the life span of a cold. Some of the best ways to treat a cold and keep it at bay are all natural. The simplest of all is to blow your nose often but not too hard and this can cause ear ache. Sleeping is said to be the number one way to get rid of a cold, so staying rested is always the best way. Drinking hot liquids and breathing in steam are great ways to keep your nasal and throat passages clear.
So before you go running to the doctor or throw back a couple of cold relief tablets try the easy ways to relieve a cold and keep it from making a recurring appearance in your life.