The Common Cold


- an illness that is short in duration, usually less than two weeks, does not usually produce fever, except in children. The common cold causes irritation and drainage in any or all of the airways including the nose, sinuses, throat, voice box, and often the bronchial tubes.

What causes the common cold?
Many different viruses can cause the common cold. Each virus may have a slightly different pattern of symptoms and severity. Well over 100 types of cold viruses are known. There is no evidence that cooling the body induces a cold. Infection may be facilitated by excessive fatigue, emotional stress and other factors that weaken the body's immune defenses. Bacteria that live in the nose and throat can gain a foothold and cause secondary infection such as ear infections, bacterial sinusitis and bacterial bronchitis.

Symptoms and Signs.
Colds usually begin abruptly. Throat discomfort is often first, followed by sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion and decreased energy level. Fever is unusual, but children and infants may have fever up to 102 degrees. Chest symptoms are variable, and when they are present, this is commonly referred to as a "chest cold". Mucous becomes thick. Coughing, if present, can last two to three weeks. Green or yellow sputum or nasal secretions suggest a secondary bacterial bronchitis or sinusitis.

The common cold can be mistaken for hay fever (allergy) or bacterial disease such as a sinus infection or strep throat. Fever and more severe symptoms, especially muscle aches and cough, suggest the flu. If the disease comes on quickly, is not too severe and resolves in one to two weeks, it is usually the common cold. Allergies usually recur and can last for entire seasons. Bacterial sinus infections are usually limited to the nose and usually will not resolve unless antibiotics are given. Treatment: The key to treating a cold is to make your body comfortable while it fights the infection. Only your body's own defenses can fight off a cold. Antibiotics don't help, though they can treat or prevent secondary bacterial infections. Pain should be treated using Advil or Tylenol, especially for sore throat. Nasal congestion and trouble breathing should be treated with Sudafed or Afrin nasal spray. Afrin nasal spray is excellent medicine, but can only be used for three or four days. Sudafed can act as a stimulant and make it hard to sleep. Sudafed in the morning and Afrin at night is a good combination. Runny nose can be dried up with antihistamines such as Benadryl or Chlortrimeton. Cough should be treated with cough syrup such as Robitussin DM. Many over-the-counter medicines are available with combinations of the above ingredients. If possible, it is often better to take each separately, depending on your symptoms.

Generic Ingredients to look for:

Stuffiness and nasal congestion - pseudoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine. Phenylephrine, oxymetazoline.

Pain - Ibuprofen,acetaminophen.

Clear drainage - diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine.

Cough -dextromethorphan.

What to do if you have a cold.
If it is mild and without fever, you can treat yourself with over-the-counter medications as listed above. If you feel more ill or have fever, you should see your doctor. Your doctor can help you be sure that all you are suffering is a simple cold. If you have the flu or bacterial illness, the doctor can prescribe antibiotics and anti-viral medications that will greatly improve your recovery. Anti-virus medications only help influenza and do not help the common cold.

If you have further questions about the Common Cold, please feel free to contact our office.

Snoring - Sleep Apnea & Snoring
Smell and Taste
Sinusitis in Children
Nose Bleeds
Stuffy Nose
The Flu
The Common Colds
Post Nasal Drip
Over-the-counter Medicine
Causes of Sinus Pain
Your Sinuses - Questions & Answers

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