Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fighting common cold

The common cold is a viral infection that affects the upper airways including the nose, voice box, throat, windpipes and the lungs. There are more than two hundred viruses that can cause colds and are commonly known as rhinoviruses or the nose viruses. These viruses cause inflammation or swelling of the mucous membrane lining the airways.

Early signs of a cold are a sore, scratchy throat, sneezing, and a runny nose. Other symptoms are headache, watering eyes, chills, weakness, cough and congestion, fever and muscle ache. The symptoms generally last for 2 to 7 days and in some cases may last for weeks. 

You should wash your hands a lot. Frequent hand washing, using a medically-approved anti-bacterial soap, will help you get rid of any potential germs that you might have come into contact with.
You should also get plenty of sleep or rest. If you are tired and fatigued, your body's resistance decreases, making you more susceptible to common cold. 

You should avoid drinking milk as it causes mucus to form and coat your throat making it very difficult for you to swallow and cough.
You should eat spicy foods. Spicy hot foods will cause your body to expel mucus. When you eat these types of foods, your nose will start to run and you will begin to cough up mucus. Spicy foods work just like a natural decongestant but without side effects.

It is always good to take vitamins as it helps strengthen your immune system. It is good to help buffer against getting a cold and during a cold to boost your immune level against the virus.
There is no specific test to diagnose common cold. The diagnosis is based on the symptoms reported and the physical examination made by the doctor.

Drinking plenty of liquids can help. Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration.
A saltwater gargle - 1/2 teaspoon salt in a glass of warm water - can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.

It has been found that soup does seem to help relieve cold and flu symptoms in two ways. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils - immune system cells that participate in the body's inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose, helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining. 

Saline nasal sprays combat stuffiness and congestion. Unlike nasal decongestants, saline sprays don't lead to a rebound effect - a worsening of symptoms when the medication is discontinued - and most are safe and non-irritating, even for children.

Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated sodas, which make dehydration worse.
Non-prescription decongestants and pain relievers offer some symptom relief, but they won't prevent a cold or shorten its duration, and most have some side effects. If used for more than a few days, they can actually make symptoms worse.

Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions, another reason why colds are more common in winter. Parched air also dries the mucous membranes, causing a stuffy nose and scratchy throat. A humidifier can add moisture to your home.


KParthasarathi said...

Thanks.I have since started following your blog

bashyams said...

A very very useful article. Thanks.