The common cold is an acute, usually afebrile, viral infection that causes inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. It's the most common infectious disease and is more prevalent in children, adolescent boys, and women. In temperate climates, it occurs more often in the colder months; in the tropics, during the rainy season.
Colds usually are benign and self-limiting, but they cause more lost time from school or work than any other illness. Morbidity from acute respiratory illness accounts for 30% to 50% of time lost from work by adults and 60% to 80% of time lost from school by children.
Although more than 200 viruses can cause a common cold, the rhinovirus is the most common culprit. Many cold viruses are highly contagious.
A cold virus enters your body through your mouth or nose, but it's likely you also had a "hand" in your own illness. Although a common cold can spread through sneezing and coughing, it often spreads by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by using shared objects, such as utensils, towels, toys or telephones. Touch your eyes, nose or mouth after such contact or exposure, and you're likely to acquire a common cold.
Signs and symptoms
The first symptoms of a cold are often a tickle in the throat, a runny or stuffy nose, and sneezing. Kids with colds may also have a sore throat, cough , headache, mild fever , fatigue, muscle aches, and loss of appetite. The discharge from your child's nose may change from watery to thick yellow or green.
The entire cold is usually over all by itself in about 7 days, with perhaps a few lingering symptoms (such as cough) for another week. If it lasts longer, consider another problem, such as a sinus infection or allergies.
No explicit diagnostic test exists to isolate the specific organism responsible for the common cold. Despite infection, white blood cell count and differential are within normal limits. Diagnosis must rule out allergic rhinitis, measles, rubella, and other disorders that produce similar early symptoms.
A temperature higher than 100° F (37.8° C), severe malaise, anorexia, tachycardia, exudate on the tonsils or throat, petechiae, and tender lymph glands may point to a more serious disorder and require additional diagnostic tests.
Because the common cold has no cure, the primary treatment - aspirin or acetaminophen, fluids, and rest - is purely symptomatic. Aspirin and acetaminophen ease myalgia and headache; fluids help loosen accumulated respiratory secretions and maintain hydration; and rest combats fatigue and weakness. Because aspirin has been associated with Reye's syndrome in children, acetaminophen is the drug of choice for a child with a cold and fever.
Decongestants can relieve nasal congestion. Throat lozenges relieve soreness, and steam encourages expectoration. Nasal douching, sinus drainage, and antibiotics are necessary except in complications or chronic illness. Pure anti-tussives relieve severe coughs but are contraindicated with productive coughs when cough suppression is harmful. The role of vitamin C remains controversial. In infants, saline nose drops and mucus aspiration with a bulb syringe may be beneficial.
The best way to avoid catching the common cold is to wash your hands frequently and avoid close contact with people who have colds. When around people with colds, do not touch your nose or eyes, because your hands may be contaminated with the virus.
People with colds should cough and sneeze in facial tissue and dispose of the tissue promptly, and then wash his/her hands immediately. In addition, cleaning surfaces with disinfectants that kill viruses can halt the spread of the common cold. Research has shown that rhinoviruses may survive up to three hours outside of the nasal mucosa.
Online Doctor || Contact Us || Skin Disorders || Cellulite Guide || Chemotherapy || Acne Products ||
(c) Online-family-doctor.com All rights reserved
Disclaimer: Online-family-doctor.com is an information and educational purposes web site only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. Do not rely upon any of the information provided on this site for medical diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your primary health care provider about any personal health concerns. We will not be liable for any complications, or other medical accidents arising from the use of any information on this site.