Daily Medical Information

Subtitle

Through common cold we can define a series of highly contagious viral infections of the upper respiratory system. The picornaviruses and coronaviruses categories of viruses are responsible for these viral infections. Of the first category, the rhinoviruses are identified as the main cause of the common cold. Common cold is one of the most recurrent illnesses in the world, both in children and adults. On average, an adult gets sick two to four times per year. Children can get sick more often, between eight and twelve times per year, especially those of preschool age who are still building their immune system.

Common cold is the most contagious during the first 2 days from the appearance of the symptoms. Usually, cold is spread through contact with some secretions of the affected person. After reaching the hands, the viruses will enter the body when the hand reaches the nose, mouth or ears. More rarely, the viruses can be transmitted by air, when you breathe the droplets generated by the affected person. Once it reaches the upper respiratory tract, the virus starts to multiply very quickly, generating the specific symptoms.

The common cold is more frequent in spring and autumn-winter. The dry air from the winter season affects the nasal mucosa, making it more susceptible to infection. The low temperatures from the winter season do not cause common cold directly, but they can weaken the immune system and become an indirect cause. Stress and other similar factors can also lead to a weak immune system. The symptoms of common cold usually appear 2-5 days after the infection takes place. The period can extend to 10 days in some very rare cases. The most common cold symptoms are:

  • Pain or discomfort in the throat
  • Cough
  • Sneezing,
  • Excessive tearing
  • Muscle pain
  • Fatigue
  • lack of appetite,
  • fever and
  • Exhaustion.


The pain or discomfort in the throat is usually the first symptom. Nasal secretions may be heavy at first and are watery and clear. Later on, they begin to diminish in amount and become opaque, with a green-yellow color. Symptoms usually disappear after a week (4-10 days), except for the cough that may persist for another week or two. The diagnosis is made on the basis of these symptoms. In case the patient experiences high fever, severe headache and chest pain, medical attention is necessary.


Complications include bacterial infection (e.g., otitis, sinusitis), asthma attacks in people who suffer from asthma and even lung infections (bronchitis, pneumonia). Usually, common cold treatments are part of the natural treatments and traditional treatments and are directed only to relieve the symptoms. Drug treatments based on antibiotics and antivirals do not help in treating the common cold. Moreover, taking them without medical advice may be harmful and can lead to long term negative effects. First of all, people affected by cold should avoid going out in cold places and avoid infecting other people. In case of fever and pain, it is really recommended resting at home.  

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