Diseases

Common Cold

Viral infection

Common cold is an inflammation of the mucosa in the nose, sinuses and throat and is caused by a viral infection. Possible symptoms include sneezing, sniffing, coughing, sore throat, hoarseness and earache. A person can also feel very sick. Cold is the most common disease. Almost everyone is affected sometimes.


Cause

Common cold is caused by a virus. This is usually the rhinovirus, but there are many viruses that can cause a cold. When someone runs a cold several times in succession, it’s each time another virus.

Cold viruses spread easily through droplets of moisture in exhaled air that are inhaled again by others. This happens especially when people sit close together in poorly ventilated areas, such as on the bus, tram or train, in the office, at school or in a nursery.

The virus can also be transferred via the hands. A person who has a cold, for example, touches his nose or holds his hand over his mouth to sneeze or cough. Then he or she shakes hands to another person or touches something that is then touched by others.

After infection, it takes two to three days before the first symptoms occur.


Symptoms

Signs and symptoms that occur in common cold are:

A common cold is therefore not limited to the nose. A bad cold causes a flu-like feeling. In addition to the symptoms above, a person has also fever then and feels listless and limp.


Diagnosis

The diagnosis of common cold can usually be made on the basis of the symptoms. High fever, severe headache, rash, difficulty breathing or chest pain indicate that the infection is no ordinary cold. A laboratory test is usually not needed to diagnose a cold. However, if complications are suspected, blood tests and X-rays may be performed.


Treatment

A common cold cannot be cured with medication. Antibiotics don’t help with colds. Antibiotics only work against bacteria and not against viruses. It will therefore simply have to run itself out. Still, it’s wise to contact the general practitioner if the cold lasts longer than two weeks, if one has a fever that lasts longer than five days, if one is very stuffy or when the fever comes back after it had disappeared.

For small children and babies, special attention is required when they have colds.


Prognosis

In most cases, common cold passes on its own. People often heal from colds in one to three weeks. The body deals with colds itself.

Some people may have severe symptoms by infection with the cold virus. This relates to asthma patients, people with heart and/or lung diseases and premature babies (i.e. born before 32 weeks pregnancy).


Considerations


Facts


Synonyms

Cold, Nasopharyngitis, Rhinopharyngitis, Acute Coryza


See also

Asthma

Headache

Influenza

Sinus Infection

Sore Throat

Blood Test

Radiography

Healthy Food

Physical Exercise

Smoking

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