What is Cold?
Sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, coughing. These are the hallmarks of the common cold—and unfortunately, it hits millions of people in the United States each year. Indeed, adults get an average of two to three colds each year while kids get even more. Although the common cold tends to hit in the winter and spring, it’s possible to contract a cold any time of year.But just what is a cold and what can you do about it? The common cold is the result of rhinoviruses. It’s very common and usually clears up on its own within about 7 to 10 days. Read on to learn more facts about the common cold and how you can treat it.
What causes a cold?
Although many different viruses can cause a cold, rhinoviruses are the most common. A cold virus enters your body through your mouth, eyes or nose, usually when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks (the virus can spread through droplets in the air). You can also catch a cold by touching contaminated objects and surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
What are the symptoms of a cold, and how long until they appear?
You’ll know you have a cold if you’re suffering from a sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches and body aches. Usually a sore throat is the first symptom to show up, followed by a runny nose. Sometimes a common cold can cause other symptoms like a mild fever and aching joints. Once you contract a cold virus, it can take a few days for symptoms to develop.
How long does a cold last?
For adults, a common cold will usually clear up on its own within about 7 to 10 days. If you have a cough, it may take you a little longer to recover. Adults need about 18 days to completely recover from a cough while kids may require a good three weeks.
What’s the difference between a cold and the flu?
Although colds and flus are often confused, they are actually quite different. The flu is caused by very different virus types than the ones that cause the common cold. This is why a diagnosed cold caused specifically by a cold virus cannot “morph” into the flu. What’s more, flu symptoms tend to be worse than cold symptoms, and they come on suddenly (cold symptoms tend to arrive gradually). When you’re hit with the flu, you know it. You can expect to be faced with a fever, chills, and aching muscles and joints. Colds, on the other hand, are usually associated with a sore throat and runny nose. Colds are much more common than the flu.
How can I prevent a cold?
The best way to prevent a cold is to avoid touching your face. The reason? Cold viruses travel through small liquid drops when someone with a cold sneezes or coughs. These particles can land on surfaces like doorknobs and computer keyboards and spread to your hands when you touch them. If you then touch your face, the virus has a good chance of entering your eyes, nose or mouth. You should also avoid sharing drinking cups or tissues with anyone who has a cold. It’s also a good idea to frequently wash your hands with soap and water to keep from catching a cold. Scrub them for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Is a cold contagious?
According to the American Lung Association, colds are highly contagious. Viruses live on all surfaces touched by humans. Cold viruses will not cause a cold when on a person’s skin (i.e., when a person touches a surface with cold viruses on it). However, if a person then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth, the cold virus will then enter the respiratory tract. Cold viruses also travel through airborne droplets created when an infected person sneezes or coughs. , These droplets can then be inhaled by another person, who can become infected.
How can I treat a cold?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. To feel better, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest. In the meantime, over-the-counter medications can help ease your symptoms. Although Vicks products cannot cure a cold, they can help you feel better. NyQuil Cold & Flu and DayQuil Cold & Flu are both good options since they contain a pain reliever/fever reducer and cough suppressant. If you’re suffering from additional symptoms, try NyQuil SEVERE Cold & Flu, which also contains a nasal decongestant and DayQuil SEVERE Cold & Flu, which contains an expectorant to help loosen phlegm (mucus) and thin bronchial secretions to make coughs more productive.