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The common cold is a self-limited contagious illness that can be caused by a number of different types of viruses. The common cold is medically referred to as a viral upper respiratory tract infection. More than 200 different types of viruses are known to cause the common cold, with rhinovirus causing approximately 30%-35% of all adult colds. Other commonly implicated viruses include corona virus, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and virus. It is famously believed that common cold would disappear within a week without any treatment.

The symptoms of the common cold typically begin two to three days after acquiring the infection (incubation period). Symptoms and signs of the common cold vary depending on the virus responsible for the infection and may include the following

  • Nasal stuffiness or drainage
  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Sneezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Cough
  • Watery eyes
  • Low-grade fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue

The common cold is spread either by direct contact with infected secretions from contaminated surfaces or by inhaling the airborne virus after individuals sneeze or cough. Person-to-person transmission often occurs when an individual who has a cold blows or touches their nose and then touches someone or something else. A healthy individual who then makes direct contact with these secretions can subsequently become infected, often after their contaminated hands make contact with their own eyes or nose. A cold virus can live on objects such as pens, books, telephones, computer keyboards, and coffee cups for several hours and can thus be acquired from contact with these objects

  • Drink plenty of water, teas, soups during a cold. Keep the body well hydrated as this helps prevent the growth and multiplication of the viruses.
  • Use steam inhalation with little salt to relieve nasal congestion.
  • To ease throat irritation warm salt water gargles are effective.
  • Adequate rest during the illness.
  • Diet rich in Vitamin C helps build the resistance and thus prevent recurrent infections.

Preventive Measures:

Always wash your hands: Children and adults should wash hands at key moments -- after nose-wiping, after diapering or toileting, before eating, and before preparing food.

Disinfect: Clean commonly touched surfaces (sink handles, sleeping mats) with an EPA-approved disinfectant.

Switch day care: Using a day care where there are six or fewer children dramatically reduces germ contact.

Use paper towels instead of shared cloth towels.

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