Cold virus facts

Cold virus facts

DOES GETTING WET OR CHILLED CAUSE A COLD?

No!! Colds are caused by many different types of viruses which are present in your nose and throat. You are more likely to get colds or other infections when you don’t get enough sleep, eat poorly, or spend time with people who have colds. These conditions can reduce your resistance to infection, making it more likely for you to get sick. Getting wet won’t necessarily give you a cold, since the cold virus must also be present.

CAN I GET A PRESCRIPTION FROM THE DOCTOR TO GET RID OF MY COLD?

Colds are ailments that you can often treat effectively by yourself. There are no medical cures or antibiotics to speed up the healing process of a cold. The fact to remember is: VIRAL INFECTIONS do not improve with treatment by penicillin or other antibiotics. To demand a “penicillin shot” for a cold or allergy displaying cold-like symptoms is to waste time and to risk a possible drug reaction, which can occur with any medication.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A COLD?

Viral upper respiratory infection (the common cold) usually includes some combination of the following symptoms: sore throat, runny nose, coughing, stuffy or congested nose, hoarseness, swollen glands, muscle aches and fever. One symptom usually starts off the cold and another (usually hoarseness or cough) may remain after the others have subsided.

DO COLD SYMPTOMS FOLLOW A PATTERN?

Yes. From 1-3 days after the virus takes hold in your body, the symptoms appear. But other people can catch your cold even before you experience symptoms, which is one reason why colds are hard to prevent. The first indication of the infection is usually scratchiness or tickling in the throat. Within a few hours, your nose becomes stuffy and you have general feelings of discomfort and illness and you may start sneezing. Within 48 hours, your cold is fully developed. Each of the many viruses which cause upper respiratory infection has a slightly different incubation period, group of symptoms, and duration. Most colds last anywhere from 4-14 days.

WHAT CAN I DO FOR MY COLD?

REST — You should rest and sleep more than usual during this time. Try for 8-10 hours of sleep each night. This gives your body a better opportunity to combat the cold viruses.

FLUIDS — Drink plenty of liquids. To be sure you get enough, drink a full glass of water or liquid every two hours. Fluids help to keep the mucus more liquid and easier to clear out, and help to prevent complications such as bronchitis and ear infections.

Alcohol and drinks containing caffeine in large quantities are not good fluid replacers since they tend to cause dehydration. Broth or chicken soup is excellent when you have a cold because they soothe your throat, or you can try juices.

STOP SMOKING — Smoke irritates the bronchial passages, which prolongs the cold symptoms. Refrain from smoking if at all possible.

STEAM — Take hot, steamy showers to relieve congestion in the chest and nasal passages. If you can afford it, buy a cool mist or steam vaporizer to add moisture to the air in your bedroom.

GARGLE — Gargle with warm salt water to reduce the sore throat pain. Put 1/2 teaspoon salt in an 8 oz. glass of warm water and gargle every 2-4 hours as needed.

WHEN SHOULD I SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE?

High fever: If your temperature rises above 101o or if you have a fever over 100o for more than 3 days.

Unusual discharge: If discharge from nose or throat is rusty, greenish-yellow and has a distinct odor.

Duration: If your symptoms last longer than 14 days.

Extreme discomfort: If you have intense chest pain or shortness of breath.

Significant pain: In one or both ears.

Sore throat: For more than 3 days.

Chronic respiratory problems (i.e., asthma, emphysema): Seek medical care after 2-3 days, if symptoms worsen.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP PREVENT COLDS?

Since colds are caused by so many different viruses, the immunities you develop to one virus won’t protect you against other cold viruses. While there are no sure ways to prevent a cold, the following precautions may help:

• The most obvious advice is to 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.

• During the months when colds are prevalent, wash your hands frequently.

• Eat a well-balanced diet and make sure you get enough sleep to keep up your resistance.

• Adding moisture to your room by using a vaporizer, humidifier, or even putting trays of water on radiators may increase your body’s ability to fight infection. When the air is very dry (less than 30% moisture), the mucous membranes tend to dry out. Without normal drainage, sinuses, middle ears and bronchi may become infected.

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