How To Treat The Common Cold

The Common Cold | Symptoms & Treatment

The cold weather has arrived, and with it an increase in several viral infections which are generally referred to as the common cold. This upper respiratory tract infection was named the common cold originally because the arrival of the illness typically increased with the cold weather. There are several viruses which are grouped together that actually cause what is known as the common cold.

Rhinovirus is the culprit up to 80% of the time.


The most common virus to cause the common cold is the rhinovirus which is a type of enterovirus. The other viruses which are associated with the common cold are piornavirus, influenza viruses, adenoviruses, the matapneumovirus, other enteroviruses besides the rhinovirus, human respiratory syncytial virus, and the human parainfluenza virues. These viruses occur at different frequencies, some more than others, and it is not uncommon for more than one virus to be present at a time.

Common Cold Symptoms

  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle ache
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills

There are many symptoms associated with the common cold. The first sign of a cold is fatigue. Being overly tired, or not getting enough rest is also linked to the onset of a cold. Sneezing, feeling chilled, and a headache also occur at the beginning of a cold. Sometimes lasting through the entire length of the life of the virus. After these symptoms set in they are typically followed by a runny nose which through post nasal drip cause a cough. This cough can last around 2 to 3 weeks with some variations depending on the age and health of the individual. The cough tends to last longer in children and the elderly. Usually the common cold has begun to come to an end within 7 to 10 days, with that lingering cough hanging around a bit longer.

How to Catch a Cold

  • Hand-to-hand
  • Hand-to-surface-to-hand
  • Air-bourne

Of the three it appears that the first two are a more prominent transmission than the air-bourne droplets. During the dry, cold season of winter there is an increase in the common cold. There is a theory that states that because there is less humidity in the air that the aerosols or airborne droplets spread further and last longer and this is one of the reasons that it is so much easier to catch a cold during the winter. Well considering the lack of humidity only happens for a few months out of the year, it is more likely to catch one of these viruses from a surface or direct hand-to-hand contact. The rhinovirus can live for up to 18 hours on a surface, and then typically transferred to the mouth, nose, or eyes where they replicate and turn into a serious cold.

People tend to get sick more often during the winter because we are inside around other individuals. As a result we receive less fresh air in the winter, and we are more likely to be exposed to a virus. Daycares, schools, and offices where people work in close quarters are some serious breeding grounds for these kinds of viruses. Generally once they are contracted they are brought home or to your child’s afterschool activity to be shared among any individuals who the infected individual comes in contact with.

Other Causes

  • Lack of sleep
  • Malnutrition
  • Age
  • Compromised immune system

Common Cold Prevention

Many factors are tied to the way our individual immune systems function. Getting adequate rest and eating healthy can help to keep us healthy and lower our risk of contracting the common cold. Hand washing can also be extremely helpful in the prevention of the common cold. Because there are so many types of viruses grouped together to be called the common cold creating and the rate at which these viruses mutate and evolve, a vaccination just isn’t a useful prevention measure, because it would not be able to keep up with the virus itself.

Adding some supplements, for example zinc or vitamin C may help reduce the lifespan of the cold, but these have not been proven through western medicine.


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