The common cold is such a frequent illness that it is only logical that it is surrounded by so many stories and theories. Some of them are true, but some are myths.
Facts about the common cold
In most cases, a common cold is caused by rhino virus. This virus is airborne, which means that when, for example, a person coughs or sneezes, the virus is contained in tiny respiratory droplets. They can land on a person’s face or hands, or they can land on a surface, which then becomes contaminated. When a healthy person touches that surface and than reaches for the nose or the mouth, he or she can become infected too. This is the fact about how the rhino virus is spread.
A common cold can last anywhere from two to 12 days. It probably depends on the person’s immune system and overall health. A healthy adult can have a common cold two to four times a year, while school-aged children can suffer from it as much as 1112 times per year.
The symptoms usually start during the incubation period, during which time the virus may cause sore throat. Then the other symptoms set in, like cough, sneezing, congestion, runny nose, fever, headache and muscle ache.
A person who has a common cold is the most contagious in the first two to four days, but in some cases the contagious period may last up to three weeks.
As for the treatment, there is no specific cure for the common cold. Most treatments and medications aim to relieve the symptoms and they may include antihistamines, decongestants, cough medicines, throat lozenges, and pain killers.
Myths about the common cold
Many stories about the common cold that have been passed on from generation to generation are true, but some of them are just incorrect, so they are considered to be a myth.
For example, one of the common myths about this illness is that a person can catch a cold if going out with wet hair and damp clothes. Virus simply cannot be contracted that way. The only reason why common colds are more frequent in the winter is that the virus can survive longer on low temperatures and that the nose membranes are drier and more susceptible to infection.
Another myth is that a person can catch a cold or flu on an airplane. This may even sound logical because an airplane is a closed environment and the virus can spread more quickly, but that may be true for elevators, small offices, shops, and other small indoor places and confined areas.
Some people automatically reach for antibiotics when they have a cold. This is completely useless because viruses do not respond to antibiotics.
There is an old saying that goes “Feed the cold, starve the fever”. This saying should not be taken seriously because human body and its immune system needs the energy and the nutrients in order to be able to fight off the infection.
Other myths about the common cold, that have been proven to be false, are that the common cold is spread through kissing, that the virus can be killed by drinking alcohol and that it will not go away without an absolute bed rest.