Common Cold

General Illness Information


Medical Term:

Upper Respiratory Infection, URI

Common name: Common Cold

Description: A contagious viral infection of the upper-respiratory passages

Causes:

Any of at least 100 viruses. Virus particles spread through the air or from person-to-person contact, especially hand-shaking.

Prevention:

  • Wash hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose or handling food;
  • To prevent spreading a cold to others, avoid unnecessary contact during the contagious phase (first 2 to 4 days);
  • Avoid crowded places when possible, especially during the winter;
  • Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet that includes plenty of citrus fruits and other sources of vitamin C.

Some herbal supplements such as Echinacea, Goldenseal are popular as preventives.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Aches and pains;
  • Runny or stuffy nose. Nasal discharge is watery at first, then becomes thick and yellow;
  • Sore throat;
  • Hoarseness;
  • Cough that produces little or no sputum;
  • Low fever or no fever;
  • Fatigue;
  • Watery eyes;
  • Appetite loss.

Risk Factors

  • Exposure to infected individuals;
  • Touching one’s nose or conjunctiva with contaminated fingers.

Diagnosis & Treatment

This is a clinical diagnosis. No specific tests are necessary.

General Measures:

  • Use a cool-mist, ultrasonic humidifier to increase air moisture. Clean humidifier every day;
  • For a baby too young to blow his nose, use an infant nasal aspirator. If mucus is thick and sticky, loosen it by putting 2 or 3 drops of salt solution into each nostril;
  • Don’t insert cotton swabs into a child’s nostrils. Instead, catch the discharge outside the nostril on a tissue or swab, roll it around and pull the discharge out of the nose.

Medications:

No medicine, including antibiotics, can cure the common cold. To relieve symptoms, you may use non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen, decongestants, nose drops or sprays, cough remedies and throat lozenges. Some herbal supplements such as Echinacea/Goldenseal may help in alleviating symptoms.

Activity:

Bed rest is not necessary, but avoid vigorous activity. Rest often.

Diet:

Regular diet. Drink extra fluids, including water, fruit juice, tea and carbonated drinks.

Possible Complications:

  • Lower respiratory tract infection;
  • Bronchial hyperreactivity;
  • May lead to exacerbation in patients with asthma and chronic lung disease;
  • Otitis media (2% of colds);
  • Acute sinusitis (0.5% of colds);
  • Pneumonia;
  • Rhinitis medicamentosa (from over use of nasal sprays).

Prognosis

Excellent.

Other

Nothing Specified.

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