A cold is a contagious viral disease which infects the soft lining of the nose. The virus can spread through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks. But it also spreads by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by using shared objects, such as utensils, towels, toys or telephones. Symptoms include sneezing, sniffling, stomach aches, runny nose, nasal congestion; scratchy, sore, or phlegmy throat; coughing; headache; and tiredness. Those affected may also feel achy. Colds typically last three to five days, with residual coughing and catarrh lasting up to three weeks. Children average three to eight colds per year. They continue getting them throughout childhood. Parents often get them from the kids. Colds are the most common reason that children miss school and parents miss work. Children usually get colds from other children. When someone has a cold, their runny nose is teeming with cold viruses. Sneezing, nose-blowing, and nose-wiping spread the virus. There are more than 100 different viruses which can result in a cold. The characteristic symptom is a runny nose.
The infection is spread by airborne droplets when the sufferer coughs or sneezes. Colds are most contagious during the first 2 to 4 days after symptoms appear, and may be contagious for up to 3 weeks. Cold can also be spread by hand if someone has the virus on their hands and then puts them close to their eyes or nose. This is possibly the most common way of catching a cold. People who smoke are more likely to catch a cold than people who don't - and their symptoms will probably be worse, last longer, and are more likely to lead to bronchitis or even pneumonia. Over-the-counter medications can provide temporary relief of symptoms and should be used as soon as you feel a cold coming on. Acetaminophen is less likely to upset your stomach than other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen which are used to relieve aches and pains. There are no antiviral medications available for treating the common cold. Antibiotics are not useful for treating a cold, and should only be taken to treat bacterial complications that arise from it.
Prevention of Cold
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Don't cover your sneezes and coughs with your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you blow your nose, wash your hands before touching your mouth or eyes. If you cough, wash your hands before touching your eyes or nose.
- Avoid close, prolonged contact with anyone who has a cold.
- Using paper cups can be helpful to avoid spreading of germs. Having a dispenser of small cups in key areas (e.g., kitchen, bathroom) can help children to make it a habit.
Home Remedies for Cold
- Lemon is the most important among the many home remedies for common cold. It is beneficial in all types of cold with fever.
- Ginger is another excellent remedy for colds and coughs.
- A teaspoon of the root paste, mixed with an equal quantity of honey or tulsi leaf juice, given once every night for a month, acts as an excellent medicine for colds.
- Use camphor water as a chest and throat rub. Avoid getting it near the eyes.
- Take a tbsp of carom seeds (ajwain), crush and tie them properly in a muslin cloth. Inhale in case of nose blockage.
- Drink plenty of fluids like water, fruit juices, etc.
- Take 3-4 tsp onion juice and 3-4 tsp honey and mix well before consuming.