Common cold is probably the most frequent and widely spread viral infection. The medical term for this illness is viral upper respiratory tract infection and it affects billions of people worldwide each year, especially in the winter.
Although in some people it can lead to certain complications, common cold is considered harmless.
Causes of common cold
Common cold is a contagious disease caused by viruses. There around 200 different viruses that can cause common cold, and the most common ones are rhinovirus, coronavirus and coxsackievirus. Rhinovirus is responsible for approximately 50% of all cases of common cold.
The virus causing common cold is spread through direct contact with the infected person or a contaminated surface, and through saliva droplets and nasal secretions as well.
Symptoms of common cold
The symptoms of cold can vary depending on the type of virus, but in most cases they include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, watery or itchy eyes, sore or scratchy throat, cough, headache, muscle ache and fatigue. Fever is not a typical symptom of cold but it does occur to some people.
In some cases, especially in people with a compromised immune system, common cold can develop into bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia, otitis media, croup and strep throat.
Duration of common cold
The exact duration of a cold depends on many factors, like the condition and overall health of the infected person, the type of the virus and other.
However, in a typical case, the symptoms start two or three days after contracting the virus. This is called the incubation period. The symptoms are more severe during the first three or four days, and during this time the chance of infecting another person is the highest. It is still possible to pass the virus to another person up to three weeks after the symptoms first appear.
In most cases, the symptoms subside completely in five to seven days, although for some they can last for ten days or even two weeks. Luckily, the symptoms become milder by the day.
Treatment for common cold
Common cold is caused by viruses so it cannot be cured using medications. Still, it is possible to relieve the symptoms and make the recovery as short as possible. This can be done by using over-the-counter medications like nasal decongestants, antihistamines, cough drops, Throat lozenges, pain killers and similar.
Home remedies are even more effective. Herbal teas, fresh fruit, chicken soup, honey, lemon, garlic and ginger are just some of the home remedies effective for the cold. It is important to drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible.