A runny nose, scratchy throat, and non-stop sneezing – ooh the all-too-familiar signs of a cold. But mystery shrouds many things about it. Why do you seem to get a cold so often while your best friend stays well? And more importantly, how can you stay healthy this year? Let’s look at the facts:
What Is It?
It’s an illness caused by a tiny virus. More than 200 types lead to your misery, but the most common one is the rhinovirus, which brings on 10% to 40% of colds. The coronavirus is responsible for about 20% of cases, while the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and parainfluenza virus cause 10% of colds.
How does it start?
It is highly contagious. If you touch a surface that has germs on it, or a computer keyboard, doorknob, or spoon, for example, and then touch your nose or mouth, you will most likely catch it. You can also catch it if you’re near someone who is sick and sneezes into the air.
The cold takes hold of you when the virus attaches to the lining of your nose or throat. Your immune system, which is the body’s defense against germs, sends out white blood cells to attack this invader. Unless you’ve had a run-in with that exact strain of the virus before, the initial attack fails and your body sends in reinforcements. Your nose and throat get inflamed and a lot of mucus is formed. With so much of your energy directed at fighting the cold virus, you’re left feeling tired and miserable.
One common belief that is a complete myth, is that getting chilly or wet doesn’t cause you to get sick. There are however other circumstances that make you prone to coming down with a cold, such as when you’re extremely tired, under emotional distress, or have allergies with nose and throat symptoms.
The symptoms we are all too familiar with:
- Scratchy or sore throat
- Stuffy nose
- Watery eyes
- Mucus draining from your nose into your throat
More severe symptoms, such as high fever or muscle aches, may be a sign that you have the flu, rather than a cold.
Kids and Colds
Children have about 5-7 colds per year. Mainly because they spend time at school or in daycare centers where they’re in close contact with other kids for the greatest part of the day. In addition, their young immune systems aren’t yet strong enough to fight off colds.
How to prepare properly for the Cold Season
Changes in humidity may also affect how often people get sick, as the most common cold viruses survive better when it’s low. Also, cold weather may dry out the lining of your nose and make it more vulnerable to a viral infection.
When do you need to consult the experts?
Most colds last about 7 to 10 days, but if your symptoms linger, you may need to call the doctor. Sometimes, colds lead to a bacterial infection in your lungs, sinuses, or ears. If that happens, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, which work against bacteria but not against viruses.
If you’re not sure about proper treatments, or what you are using doesn’t seem to work, please don’t hesitate to consult with our pharmacists or excellent Clinic experts. We will help you identify your needs and best possible options. Every time. Because we are your best prescription to health and wellness.