Common Cold: Symptoms and Prevention

While it shares symptoms similar to the flu, the common cold is a mild upper respiratory tract infection that usually resolves on its own. Learn how to alleviate some common cold symptoms and the self-care steps you need to take to avoid catching it again.

Causes of the Common Cold   

The common cold, as it is widely known, is a mild infection of the upper respiratory tract. It is caused by viruses, with the group called rhinoviruses being behind 30 to 50 percent of colds. Other viruses that can cause colds include coronaviruses, influenza and parainfluenza viruses.   

Bacterial infections may occur as a complication of the common cold, but these are rare. Despite having many similar symptoms, the common cold is different from influenza (or the flu) in that flu sufferers’ symptoms are more severe.  

What Are the Symptoms?   

Nasal blockage and discharge, sneezing, a sore throat, coughing, and a mild fever (below 38°C) are typical signs of a cold. Headaches and tiredness affect some sufferers. (Flu sufferers typically have high fevers, headaches and body aches.)  

How Is It Treated? 

The common cold is often self-resolving and thus does not require active treatment. Healthcare professionals might suggest ways to alleviate symptoms. However, it must be noted that antibiotics are not a cure for colds. Vitamin C has long been touted as a natural remedy but there is a lack of strong scientific evidence to support its use in either preventing or treating colds. However, as Vitamin C is widely available and not expensive, some doctors do recommend it to patients. 

How to Avoid Catching It  

People will tell you to avoid "getting a chill", but there is no scientific basis to suggest that being cold increases the risk of catching the common cold. Leading a healthy lifestyle in terms of diet and exercise does seem to show some efficacy in preventing the common cold. 

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