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General

Everything You Need to Know About the Common Cold

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At first glance, the common cold and the flu may seem extremely similar. They are both respiratory infections with similar symptoms. However, they are both caused by different viruses, and your symptoms will gradually help you distinguish between the two.

Colds and flu have some symptoms in common. People who have either of these illnesses frequently have the following symptoms

a stuffy or runny nose
sneezing
aches and pains throughout the body
general exhaustion

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Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms.

Another important distinction between the two is their severity. Colds rarely lead to other health problems or difficulties. The flu, on the other hand, can cause ear and sinus infections, pneumonia and sepsis.

You should see your doctor to find out if your symptoms are due to a cold or the flu. Your doctor will run tests to find out the cause of your symptoms.

If your doctor diagnoses a cold, it will probably be enough to treat your symptoms until the virus has passed. Using over-the-counter cold medicines, staying well hydrated and getting enough rest are examples of these treatments.

If you have the flu, using an over-the-counter flu treatment early in the virus cycle can be beneficial. People who have the flu should get enough rest and drink plenty of water. The flu, like the common cold, takes time to pass through the body.

Cold Treatments for Adults:

If you are suffering from the symptoms of a cold, you are probably looking for a way to feel better. There are two main types of cold treatments:

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications:

Decongestants, antihistamines, and pain relievers are the most common over-the-counter cold medicines. A combination of these medications is sometimes used in common cold remedies. If you use one of these, make sure you read the label and understand what you are taking so you don’t take more of one class of medicine than you should.

Home Remedy:

Gargling with salt water, relaxing and staying hydrated are the most effective and common home remedies for the common cold. Herbs such as Echinacea have also been shown to be effective in relieving cold symptoms in several studies. These methods do not cure or treat a cold. Rather, they may simply reduce the severity of symptoms and make them more manageable.

Before using any over-the-counter cold medicine, talk to your doctor if you have high blood pressure. Most patients with high blood pressure can safely take these medications. Some decongestants, however, work by constricting the arteries. This may increase your blood pressure, and if you already have high blood pressure, the medication may make it worse.

Cold remedies for children:

Children under the age of four should not use over-the-counter cold remedies, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some doctors extend this advice to children as young as six years old. Consult your child’s doctor if you are unsure.

These home remedies can relieve cold symptoms in children:

Rest: Children with colds may be more irritable and lethargic than usual. Allow them to stay home and rest until the cold has passed.

Hydration is essential for children with colds. Colds can quickly dehydrate them. Check to see if they are drinking frequently. Water is great. Hot drinks, such as tea, can help relieve a sore throat.

Food: Children with colds may not be as hungry as usual, so find ways to provide calories and hydration. Smoothies and soups are two great choices.

Gargling with warm, salty water can help relieve sore throats, but it’s not the most pleasant sensation. Saline nasal sprays can also help relieve nasal congestion.

Hot baths: A hot bath can help lower the temperature and relieve moderate pain associated with a cold.

How long does it take for a cold to pass?

A cold is an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Viruses like the common cold, for example, usually need to run their course. You can treat the symptoms of the infection, but you can’t treat the infection itself.

A cold can last seven to 10 days on average. Symptoms may last longer or shorter depending on your overall health. People who smoke or have asthma, for example, may have more severe symptoms.

If your symptoms do not improve or go away within seven to ten days, you should contact your doctor. Continued symptoms may indicate a more serious problem, such as the flu or strep throat.

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