What are Colds?
The common cold is, as the name suggests, very common and easy to catch. Most adults tend to catch a cold about three to four times a year. Unfortunately, children are much more prone to catching colds as their immune systems are vulnerable and they tend to spread infections more quickly in daycare and school settings.
Diagnosing a Cold
The first cold symptoms normally manifest themselves as feeling tired, sneezing, coughing and having a runny nose. A fever is not often present and if it is, it usually remains a low fever of just 1 or 2 degrees higher than usual.
While colds and flu can cause many of the same symptoms and are often confused, a cold is generally milder, while flu tends to be more severe and longer lasting. Nevertheless, both illnesses can cause children and adults alike to become miserable and grouchy.
What Causes a Cold?
How to prevent the common cold? Although we all wish we knew how to prevent the common cold, there are more than 200 viruses that can cause it which makes the task difficuly. The rhinovirus is the one most frequently responsible, and not surprisingly, it is also one of the most contagious.
A person with a cold is usually contagious for a day before they develop cold symptoms and for about five days after, and the virus is easily spread through sneezing, coughing, yawning and sharing objects handled by an infected person.
The good news is that colds are very rarely serious and are only of concern if they lead to secondary infections such as strep throat, pneumonia, bronchitis and croup.
Help for a Cold
Common cold symptoms are usually treated with bed-rest and symptomatic medication until the body’s own immune system overcomes the infection. We may like to know how to prevent the common cold, unfortunately, there are no allopathic medications to cure or prevent colds, and although antibiotics are sometimes prescribed, they are not effective against viruses and will only help in the case of secondary infections.
Antibiotics also rob the body of important ‘good’ bacteria. Children who become repeatedly infected due to exposure at day care centers may find themselves on one course of antibiotic after the other, often compounding the problem.
Over the counter medicines like paracetamol, are often used to treat common cold symptoms. However, this form of common cold remedy may come with side effects. Decongestant drugs can be very effective, but cause side-effects like increased irritability and hyperactivity. They can also over-dry the nose and mucus membranes - causing discomfort.
It is also important to remember that all of the symptoms of colds and flu (e.g. coughing, sneezing and running nose) are nature's way of trying to drive the virus from the body and one should therefore take medicines like cough suppressants and decongestants with caution as they can prolong the illness and even make it worse in the long run.
A popular common cold remedy is chicken soup. When chicken soup and bed rest just don’t do the trick nature prescribes a few herbal and homeopathic remedies of it’s very own that can be helpful immune system boosters.
These remedies can soothe common cold symptoms and speed up recovery! Herbs such as Echinacea purpurea, Inula helenium and Withania somnifera are commonly used for their antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties and their excellent ability to support the immune system.
These herbs work as a tonic for the immune system and are an extremely successful common cold remedy. Herbal and homeopathic ingredients such as Mentha piperita, Yarrow, Nux vom., Alium cepa, Influenzinum and Baccillum also work effectively to relieve common cold symptoms and help the body get back on the road to recovery.
More Information on Colds
How Can I Prevent Colds in My Child?
If you have children, you may wonder how to prevent the common cold and though there are no proven strategies, a strong and healthy immune system will protect your child from all types of illnesses, including colds. Keep your child’s immunity in peak condition with the following tips:
- As a deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals can weaken the immune system, it is important to feed your child a healthy, balanced diet. Ensure a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and limit junk food and candy. If your child is a picky eater or avoids healthy food like the plague, use a daily multivitamin supplement, including Vitamin C and zinc.
- Keep your child away from second-hand cigarette smoke and obvious sources of environmentally toxic agents like car gas fumes, pollution and harsh detergents or cleaning materials.
- Avoid unnecessary use of prescription medications, especially antibiotics and steroid drugs.
- A healthy lifestyle including a balanced diet and regular physical exercise will help to keep your child healthy, strong and protected from illness.
- Limiting the bacteria and viruses that your children come into contact with, will also decrease their risk of falling ill.
- Encourage your child to maintain a healthy weight, and if your child is overweight or obese, encourage weight loss in a natural and safe manner.