A cold is a type of viral infection that occurs in the upper respiratory tract in the nose and throat. It is also known as the common cold. There are more than 100 different types of cold viruses. For this reason, the signs and symptoms can vary significantly. While there are more than 100 viruses that can cause a cold, the rhinovirus is the most common cause of the common cold. It is highly contagious.
The signs and symptoms of a cold usually show up about one to three days after being exposed to the virus. The signs and symptoms of a common cold may include runny or stuffy nose, itchy or sore throat, cough, congestion, body aches or a mild headache, sneezing, watery eyes, a low-grade fever, and mild fatigue. It is important to see a doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms: a fever of 103 Fahrenheit or higher, a fever combined with sweating, chills and a cough with colored phlegm, significantly swollen glands, or severe sinus pain.
The risk factors for developing a cold include age, your immunity, and the time of year. Young children have the highest risk for developing a cold. This is because they have not yet developed resistance to most of the viruses that cause them. They also have an immature immune system. Young children are also often around other kids who are not the most hygienic yet. Having an underdeveloped immune system or weak immune system increases your risk for a cold. Our immune systems get stronger as we age. It is important to keep your immune system strong to avoid more frequent colds. Colds are most common in fall and winter. Therefore, adults and children are at a higher risk for developing a cold during these seasons.
Tips to prevent a cold
· Practice good hand hygiene. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds (or the time it takes to hum “Happy Birthday” twice). An alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol can be utilized when soap and water are not available.
· Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze – preferably, with a tissue. Then, promptly discard this tissue. If you do not have a tissue available, use your elbow or upper arm, not your hands. This can help prevent others around you from getting sick.
· Stay home. If you are sick, the best way to reduce the spread of germs is to stay home from work, school or even errands. This will also allow your body the extra energy necessary to fight off any infection.
· Refrain from touching your mouth, nose or eyes. It is widely believed that flu and cold viruses are spread when infected people cough, sneeze or even speak. It is also thought that touching contaminated surfaces, like keyboards, doorknobs and phones can help spread the germs. Try to frequently clean such objects.
· Avoid contact with other sick people. For the same reason you don’t want to infect others when you are sick, try to avoid other sick people.