Common cold is a contagious infection of the nose and throat which can be caused by several viruses.
- Not sleeping enough
- Eating poorly
- Spending time with people who have colds
- Inhaling air infected by the viruses due to coughing and sneezing of infected people
- Touching something with virus on it and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth
Cold symptoms can last from 2 to 14 days. They include:
- Watery to thick cloudy or white nasal drainage
- Obstruction of nasal breathing
- Swelling of the sinus membranes
- Sore throat
- Stuffy nose
- Clear nasal drainage
- Dry hacking cough
- Body aches
One symptom usually starts off the cold and another (usually hoarseness or cough) may remain after the others have subsided. Cold symptoms appear from one to three days after the virus takes hold in your body. The first indication of the infection is usually irritation or tickling in the throat. Within a few hours, your nose become stuffy, you have general feelings of discomfort and illness and you may start sneezing. Within 48 hours, your cold is fully developed.
- Rest - Rest and sleep more than usual during this time. This is especially important in the first 72 hours. Getting 8-10 hours of sleep each night gives your body a better opportunity to combat the cold viruses. Exercise should be withheld for the first 48-72 hours to allow your body to fight off the virus.
- Fluids - Drink plenty of liquids. Fluids help to keep the mucus more liquid and easier to clear out, and help to prevent complications.
- Avoid - Alcohol and drinks containing caffeine in large quantities are not the best for fluid replacement since they can mask dehydration.
- Stop Smoking - Smoke irritates the bronchial passages, prolonging the cold symptoms. Refrain from smoking if at all possible.
- Steam - Take hot, steamy bath to relieve congestion in the chest and nasal passages.
- Gargle - Gargle with warm salt water to reduce the sore throat pain. Put ½ teaspoon table salt in an 8 oz. glass of warm water and gargle every 2-4 hours as needed.
- Diet - You may safely eat whatever you want - but it is wise to eat small, frequent meals. Choosing simple, nutritious food will ensure that your diet remains well balanced in essential vitamins and nutrients, despite your illness. Vitamin C may shorten the duration of a cold. The evidence that zinc lozenges shorten the duration of a cold is very limited.
- Fresh Air - When you are ill, it may help you to feel more comfortable if a window is left slightly open. This will ensure that the room is properly ventilated and will clear the air of unpleasant odors. As long as the room remains reasonably warm and free of drafts, a daily dose of fresh air can sometimes do wonders.
- Wash your hands frequently; this is the best defense.
- Stay away from people who have colds, especially when they sneeze or cough. Most colds are picked up either by hand-to-hand contact, or by inhaling the infected droplets from a cough or sneeze.
- Eat a well balanced diet and make sure you get enough sleep to keep up your immunity.