Colds may not be a serious disease, but they do have a high cost in days lost from work and school. Colds have been with us throughout recorded history. In ancient times nasal discharge from a cold was believed to be waste products of the brain. Treatments and preventives were as inaccurate.
We know now that a cold is usually a viral infection of the linings of the upper respiratory tract. Specific viruses enter and eventually kill vulnerable cells in the mucous membrane of the nose and throat.
A key problem with interferon is that its effects are relatively short-lived while continued dosage leads to adverse side effects. The most famous and controversial potential cold preventive is Vitamin C. Intake of Vitamin C strengthens the body’s immune system so that virally infected cells are destroyed.
Most scientists believe they are far from being able to keep you from catching a cold or to cure you if you do. The next best bet is to learn how to keep the cold virus from being transmitted to you in the first place.
Their research suggests that hand – to –hand contact rather than sneezing and coughing or kissing is the way most colds spread. It seems we can literally “Catch Cold” with our hands.
What is a person to do?
Remember first of all that we develop immunities as we go through life. Thus we unlikely catch the same cold twice. Beyond developing Immunities the hard way there is little you can do to avoid colds. If someone in your family has cold take reasonable precautions to break the chain of transmission.
- Encourage everyone to wash their hands frequently.
- Make sure the sick person has lots of facial tissue and a paper bag reserved for them.
- Promote air circulation in the house.
- Try to keep your hands away from your face.
What if you do catch a cold?
You will have a cold for a week or ten days no matter what you do. The following steps however can relive the misery, reduce the severity, and perhaps shorten the illness.
- If your cold is severe, stay in bed, drink lots of fluids and relax, chicken soup does help.
- If your cold hangs on longer than seems reasonable, you may have flu –or worse. The symptom to watch for is fever.
- Steaming might relieve you from a stuffed nose and give you a good night’s sleep.
- With most adult colds, there is little or no fever. If fever persists, past the third day you may have pneumonia or sinus infection and should see a doctor.