The common cold is caused by over 200 types of viruses. It is easily spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or simply through hand-to-hand contact. Protect yourself by practicing good hand washing etiquette and taking your trusted over the counter medicine.
The common cold is usually triggered by over 200 types of viruses and according to Mayo Clinic, the rhinovirus is the usual culprit. This common illness is easily spread through hand-to-hand contact, just like sore eyes (link to sore eyes article).
How do you know if you’re infected?
The typical signs of the common cold usually manifest one to three days after being exposed. Symptoms include:
- Low-grade fever
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion
- Runny or stuffy nose with yellowish/greenish discharge
- Slight body aches
- Mild headache
Everyone is at risk of acquiring cough and colds but those who are more prone are children under six years of age and anyone who has a weak immune system. Other environmental factors include exposure to crowded areas (especially airplanes) and cold weather. Some studies also suggest that smokers tend to suffer more severe colds compared to their non-smoking counterparts.
Usually, you won’t need to schedule a doctor’s appointment for having a cold, but it is recommended that you stay at home so your body can rest. Take note of these other precautionary measures so you’re protected:
- The simple act of sharing cups/utensils with an infected person can put you at risk—stick to your own set of cutleries and stay away from people with colds.
- Germs can easily be spread by sneezing and coughing, so practicing good hand hygiene is a must.
- Make a conscious effort of disinfecting your things after you’ve touched them and always cover your mouth when you cough.
- Drinking lots of liquids can also speed up your recovery as well as proper disposal of your used tissues.
When to see your doctor
Consider seeking medical attention if you develop a fever (temperature greater than 38.5 C). Watch out for these other red flags which could indicate that you need to see your GP immediately:
- Severe sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Fever lasts for more than five days or returns after a fever-free period
It is easy to assume that what you have is just the common cold but some symptoms may be similar to other diseases like:
Always ask a health professional before taking any form of medicine. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if he/she suspects that it could be more than just a viral infection. Follow your doctor’s prescription and never self-medicate if you are unsure of your condition. There are numerous OTC medicines which are specifically designed for colds—make sure you ask for specific non-drowse formulations to best suit your needs.