Common cold is a common and self-limiting disease. It is contagious which can be caused by various types of viruses. The common cold is medically known as a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. Common cold symptoms usually include cough, sore throat, low-grade fever, nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing.
The answer to the question, is the common cold a virus? Is that there are about 200 different types of common cold virus which often cause the disease, with about 30% –40% of the rhinovirus predominantly occurring. The common cold is considered to be the most frequent viral infection in the world. It usually occurs most often during the autumn, winter and spring seasons.
The common cold is caused by either direct contact with any secreted person from contaminated surfaces, or by inhaling the air containing the virus near the infected individuals. Its person-to-person transmission often occurs when a person touches his nose to another person or something else. The virus can remain on frequently hidden objects such as door knobs, pens, books, cell phones, computer keyboards and coffee mugs for several hours and thus exposure to these items can spread to a healthy person as well.
Symptoms of common cold
Common cold symptoms usually begin to appear two to three days after infection. These symptoms may vary depending on the type of virus causing the infection. Individuals suffer most during the initial two to three days once symptoms start to appear. Common cold viruses mainly affect our upper respiratory tract such as the nose and the throat. Few of the general symptoms of common cold are as follows:
- Feeling stuffy nose.
- Evacuation of water-like substance from the nose.
- Sore throat or throat mucus.
- Feeling tired.
- Body ache.
- Head ache.
- And low fever.
How long does the common cold last?
We know that the common cold is caused by different types of viruses, so the symptoms and severity also vary from person to person. Symptoms usually begin two to three days after exposure to the virus. In some individuals symptoms develop very mildly and in some, severe symptoms also develop. Symptoms emanating from the virus also vary, with some individuals having only the nose affected, while some may develop several symptoms such as head pain, fever, body pain, weakness etc. The symptoms that develop also depend on an individual’s disease immune potential. Most colds often heal within 7 to 10 days, some people get rid of these symptoms even earlier while some may have to go through prolonged illness as well.
Common cold treatment
There is no cure for the common cold because the common cold is a self-limiting disease that resolves on its own with time and management. Common cold medicine and home remedies are helpful in reducing the symptoms associated with the common cold while the body itself keeps fighting the virus infection.
Home remedies for infection include avoiding cold, resting and drinking fluids. Preventing or eliminating the symptoms of the common cold is not easy, but in older children and adults, some medications such as throat lozenge, throat spray, cough drops, and cough syrup help to relieve the symptoms of the virus. Gargling with hot water or hot salt water provides relief to people with a sore throat.
The use of decongestant drugs such as pseudoephedrine or antihistamine for nasal symptoms is advised by doctors. Some nasal sprays may also prove beneficial in lightening a stuffy nose. Along with the medicines, it is important to keep in mind that over-the-counter medicines can sometimes cause undesirable side effects, so they should be taken cautiously and as per the doctor’s consultation.
Common cold vs flu
Because almost all the symptoms of cold and flu are the same, yet it cannot be right to differentiate between them only on the basis of the symptoms. Tests that are usually done within a few days at the onset of the disease can tell if the person has the flu. Both flu and colds are usually diseases associated with the upper part of the respiratory system, but both are caused by different viruses. Because the symptoms of both these types of diseases are the same, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them only on the basis of the symptoms.
In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and the symptoms are more acute. Colds are mild compared to flu. People with colds are more likely to get runny or stuffy. Colds usually do not cause serious health problems such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, etc. While the flu can also cause very serious illnesses.
Common cold vs Covid
Common flu and corona virus are both virus-transmitted and contagious diseases. Both have almost the same symptoms, but there are some symptoms which differentiate between the two viz. The influenza virus is the cause of the outbreak of common flu, while the spread of Covid-19 is due to the SARS Cove 2 virus. Covid-19 is found to spread more quickly as compared to the common flu. Symptoms of covid-19 are detected too late by the time humans have become more infected and can also cause serious illnesses, whereas common flu is less likely to cause serious illnesses.