Researchers have been trying to find a cure for years, but the common cold is caused by a variety of virus families such as coronaviruss and rhinoviruses, which have hundreds of distinct types. This makes it challenging to find an overall cure.
In addition, these viruses that cause cold-like symptoms can rapidly mutate. Coronavirus, adenovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus, for instance, can also cause respiratory tract problems.
What are the symptoms of the common cold?
The symptoms that people experience when hit by the common cold vary. Usual symptoms of common colds include:
- A runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Body pains
- Hoarseness in voice
- Fevers (though rare)
These symptoms may last up to a week, with an infected person most contagious during the first 24 hours of the illness.
Over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays are usually prescribed to treat the symptoms, but these do not cure the cold virus itself. This virus is fought off by your immune system, and a person usually recovers on their own in time. Antibiotics, in this case, do not work since colds are caused by viruses.
The adage, “Prevention is better than a cure,” very much applies to the common colds. Here are some common cold prevention tips worth adopting.
Common Cold Prevention Tips
Strengthen your immune system by leading a healthy lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle provides a strong first line of defense against illness.
Researchers have yet to establish a clear link between a healthy lifestyle and a strong immune system. Still, it is widely accepted that consuming a healthy, balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, avoiding harmful habits such as smoking and excessive drinking, and minimizing stress all contribute to good general health.
A strong immune system can help a person fight off infections and recover faster from illness.
Wash your hands properly and frequently
The Mayo Clinic explains that people who have a cold and who are not careful when sneezing, coughing, or talking may spread the virus via droplets. People who come into close physical contact with the infected or touch surfaces contaminated by the virus may contract the illness, especially after unknowingly touching their eyes, nose, or mouth where the virus may enter.
An important reminder when it comes to common cold prevention: Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is the duration of about two “Happy Birthday” songs.
Make sure the palms, fingers, and the back of the hands are lathered and rinsed properly. If water and soap are not available, using an alcohol-based sanitizer as an alternative. Avoid touching the face before doing this.
Proper hand washing, as simple as it may be, is a powerful tool in protecting one’s self from illness as it kills cold viruses and other bacteria that may cause diseases. Regular hand washing is recommended especially after going out in public. Many surfaces harbor harmful viruses and germs.
Avoid those who are sick and clean common areas
It is best to stay at least a meter away from people exhibiting cold symptoms, or avoid crowded situations to lessen possible exposure to the common cold virus.
Other common cold prevention include avoiding a handshake, hug or kiss, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, sneezing into a tissue or crook of the elbow, and not sharing drinking glasses and other utensils.
Cleaning and disinfecting common areas at home and the workplace frequently is also advisable.
When to see a doctor
If the symptoms worsen or extend beyond 10 days, consult your doctor. Children younger than three months old who develop a fever or become lethargic must be checked by a physician immediately.
People over 65 years old, children younger than 5, pregnant women, and those with underlying health issues like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease are also encouraged to seek immediate medical help.
Large pharmaceutical companies are investing heavily to find a cure for the common cold. Last year, a study by scientists from Stanford University and the University of California showed promising leads for a cure, which involves targeting the protein in the human body that cold viruses need to spread.
While encouraging, the researchers noted that there is still a long way to finding a cure. While a cure is not yet ready, you may reduce your risk of contracting a cold by boosting your immunity and following the common cold prevention tips.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.