What to do if you have a cold  

What is a cold?

Colds (also called viral upper respiratory tract infections) are the most common infections know to humans. They are caused by viruses and do not respond to antibiotics. Common symptoms of colds are:

 
  • Fever
  • Nasal congestion or a runny nose (the mucus from the nose can be clear or colored)
  • Cough
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Aching muscles
  • Sore throat
  • Watery eyes
  Colds are spread from person to person by direct contact, through airborne droplets (someone coughing or sneezing near you), or indirect contact with articles freshly soiled with secretions from the nose and throat of an infected person.
   
  The incubation period (time of exposure to appearance of symptoms) of the common cold is usually 1 to 4 days.
   
  How long do colds last?
 

Colds can last from 2 to 10 days. Children can get from 2 to 10 colds a year. Adults usually get less.

   How do you treat a cold?
 
  • Rest.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever for headache and muscle aches.
  • Take over-the-counter cough medicines for coughing.
  • Take nasal sprays and decongestants for congestion (if you are on prescription medication check with your doctor or pharmacist first).
  • Take throat lozenges, ice chips or throat sprays for sore throats.
  • To prevent the spread of your infection cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands a lot.
  • If you smoke STOP!
  • Antibiotic treatment does not cure colds or viral upper respiratory tract infections.
  When should you see a doctor?
 
  • If symptoms worsen after 4 to 5 days or persist more then 7days.
  • Difficulty breathing or chest pain.
  • Very red sore throat with white patches.
  • Fever that persist more than 4 days.
  • Severe headache.
  • Persistent ear pain.
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  How do you prevent colds?
 
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get adequate rest.
  • Wash your hands after being with some one who is ill.
  • Do not share personal items like toothpaste, drinking cups, and eating utensils with other people.
  • If you are over 55 years old or have chronic medical problems get a Flu shot every year in the Fall.

The common cold virus rhinovirus 16 contains 60 sites capable of connecting to a receptor, called ICAM-1, on human cells. The virus uses several of these sites to gain entry into the cell. This computer-simulated model, developed by Purdue researchers, shows where the receptors attach to the outer protein shell of the virus.

 

   

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Copyright 2004 James Ruppel, All Rights Reserved

04/12/2008