A cold is a very common illness caused by a virus in the nose (or, more specifically, the nasal cavity) and mouth. Also known as viral or acute rhinitis, it causes a sore throat, sneezing, stuffy nose (blocked nose) and runny nose. Symptoms often last longer than they are usually transmitted. In a study of 346 adults with a simple cold, the average duration was 11 days. Colds are most often caused by rhinoviruses, belonging to the picornavirus family, which have more than 100 different serotypes.
According to surveys, a normal child can get 6 to 10 colds every year. There are 2-4 adults. Whenever a cold occurs, the body develops immunity to the specific virus that caused the episode. Over time, the body gains immunity to many of the viruses that cause colds.
Colds are more common from the beginning of autumn to the end of spring. Then you spend more time inside, which contributes to the contagion. Also, in winter, the air is usually dried at home, which causes the mucous membrane of the nose to dry. They are less effective in fighting viruses and preventing cold outbreaks. In southern countries, colds are more common during the rainy season.
A cold is an infectious disease. To be able to cause a cold, the cold virus must first settle on the mucous membrane of the nose, eyes or mouth. Unlike skin, mucous membranes do not form a very tight barrier to microbes. Viruses can reach mucous membranes, for example by inhaling microscopic contaminated droplets that are released when a person with a cold coughs or sneezes.
A cold can be spread by touching an infected person or contaminated object (glasses, utensils, toys, etc.) and putting your hand into your mouth, nose, or eyes. Viruses can survive up to 7 days on inanimate and dry surfaces. The incubation period is very short and varies from 12 hours (rhinovirus) to several days.
The cold itself does not cause complications. However, this weakens the mucous membrane and can be “colonized” secondary by bacteria. This is called bacterial hyperinfection. Signs of bacterial hyperinfection of the sinuses are thickened runny nose and prolonged symptoms over several weeks. Bacteria can also cause other diseases as a result of a cold. Therefore, the most common complication in children is otitis media. It can also weaken the body and reactivate the herpes simplex virus, which causes cold sores and genital herpes.
When should I consult a doctor?
In general, for a simple cold, you do not need to consult your doctor. In most cases, symptoms go away on their own after about a week.
However, it is advisable to consult your doctor if you have any signs of complications (otitis media, sinusitis, etc.), or if you have any of the following symptoms, which are more serious health problems than a cold:
Intense symptoms reaching the entire organism. For example, a fever of 39.5ºC (103F) or higher, chills or sweat, headache; Nasal discharge that lasts more than 10 days sometimes has a yellow color and thickens. Cough that lasts more than 7 days after the disappearance of other symptoms;
For children: constantly crying or breathing very quickly; In children, the cough is so severe that they choke or vomit.
Wheezing; There is a risk of respiratory failure, so colds develop in babies under 4 months of age.
Always take an experts advise any type of treatment.
This views expressed in the article should not be considered as a substitute for a physicians advice. Please consult your treating physician for more details.