Seasonal Information

 

The Common Cold

 

The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. This area is made up of the nose, throat, sinuses, trachea, larynx and bronchial tubes.

 

The viruses that cause colds are easily spread. If you have a cold and you sneeze, cough or speak, tiny droplets of fluid containing the cold virus are launched into the air. If these are breathed in by someone else then they could also become infected.

 

The cold virus can also be spread through direct and indirect contact. If you are suffering from a cold and you touch your nose or eyes and then come into contact with someone, you may pass the virus on to them.

The cold virus can only multiply if they are inside living cells; however they are still infectious if they are transported to the mouth, nose or eyes. If you touch an object such as a telephone, the virus may be transferred to the object.      

If someone comes into contact with that object a short time later and then touches their mouth, nose or eyes, they themselves could become infected.

 

The symptoms of a common cold include sneezing, runny nose, blocked nose, cough, sore throat and hoarseness. There are also mild, general symptoms like headache, earache and feverishness.

 

Colds last on average for one week with symptoms tending to be worse during the first 2-3 days, and easing over a few days.

Mild colds may only last for two or three days whereas a more severe cold could last up to two weeks.

You are most contagious when you have the sneezing, runny nose and cough that are the first signs of a cold developing.

 

Colds are very common. They occur mainly during the winter months, although cold weather itself is not a cause of colds. Children tend to have more colds than adults. This is because adults have built up immunity against some of the viruses that cause colds. On average, adults have between two and four colds a year, while children may have as many as eight or ten.

 

There is no cure for the common cold. Treatment is limited to reducing the effect of the symptoms, whilst the bodies own immune system fights off the infection.

 

To relieve the symptoms of a cold you could:-

Make sure you drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids

Get plenty of rest

Painkillers, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin can help with the aches and pains and also help reduce any fever.

If you are suffering from a cough, it maybe a dry, non-productive cough or it maybe chesty, where phlegm is present. In both cases cough mixtures are available.

If you have a blocked or runny nose, decongestants can help to reduce the mucus production, and thus ease the symptoms.

 

Make sure you can take these medicines if you have any medical conditions. If you are in doubt always check with your pharmacist or GP.

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