What is the common cold?
2- Causes and risk factors
A common cold is a non-serious illness caused by several viruses.
Transmission of the virus from a sick person to a healthy person
Cold viruses are transmitted by direct contact or by droplets, and direct virus transmission is the most effective mechanism for rhinoviruses.The transmission of the virus from one person to another depends on the amount of time the person spends next to the sick person and the amount of viruses the patient has.Touch transmission is the primary method of transmission. The virus is transmitted in contaminated saliva secretions from the patient to another person through the hands and from there to the nose and eyes.The virus can live for two hours on the skin and its presence has been found in 40% – 90% of cold patients, and rhinoviruses are transmitted by droplets.
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The incubation time of the virus, from infection to the onset of cold symptoms, ranges between 24-72 hours.
Symptoms vary from person to person and include:
- Runny nose and mucous congestion in the nose
- stuffy nose
- Throat aches.
In most cases, sore throats go away quickly, while gonorrhea and congestion remain the main source of complaint in patients, especially in the second and third days of the onset of the disease. On the fourth and fifth days, the cough becomes the first concern, while the severity of other symptoms subside.
A cold usually lasts 3-7 days, although it lasts for another two weeks in about a quarter of patients.
A cold may be more severe and severe in children, in people with chronic diseases, in people with a malfunctioning immune system, and in people who are malnourished.
Causes and risk factors for the common cold
There are many viruses that cause the common cold.
The following viruses cause colds:
- Rhinovirus: causes 10%-40% of colds
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV – Respiratory syncytial virus): This type of virus causes 20% of cases of illness.
- Coronavirus: Coronaviruses cause 10% of colds.
Viruses that cause symptoms similar to the common cold
Some viruses cause cold-like symptoms but are usually accompanied by pneumonia or a more severe illness, including:
- Influenza viruses.
Some viruses also cause symptoms similar to those of a cold, but they do not usually lead to the emergence of distinctive symptoms, and are accompanied by a high temperature only, including:
- Coxsackie virus
Differentiate between types of viruses
The virus that causes it is difficult to identify and differentiate based on symptoms alone, although parainfluenza affects children and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes mild colds.
Most respiratory viruses that cause colds can cause a recurrence of the disease when exposed to the virus again, but the disease is less severe in this case.
Rhinoviruses and parainfluenza cause colds in the fall and late spring, adenoviruses, coronaviruses, and respiratory syncytial viruses cause colds in the winter and spring, and echoviruses and coxsackieviruses are the ones that cause colds in the summer.
Respiratory syncytial virus is a very contagious virus, and infection with this virus usually occurs by droplets, although the virus survives for about an hour at a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius.
In 90% of patients who develop symptoms, the virus is not found in saliva, which leads to the belief that the virus is not transmitted through kissing.
Risk factors for the common cold
Risk factors that increase the risk of developing a cold include:
- Winter season.
- Weakened immunity.
Complications of the common cold
Possible complications of a cold include:
Sinusitis is caused by bacteria, and it occurs in 0.5% – 2.5% of adults after a cold, and it has been shown in computerized imaging tests that this infection appears in 39% of people with a cold after a week.
Characteristic symptoms of inflammation: purulent runny, headache, persistent fever.
- Lung inflammation
Mainly due to respiratory syncytial virus contamination.
- Asthma exacerbation
About 40% of asthma attacks are caused by the common cold.
Most cold patients can be diagnosed by the doctor based on the symptoms, but if the doctor suspects that there is a bacterial infection, he will take a chest x-ray to make sure that there is no infection.
Treatment of the common cold is generally aimed at relieving only the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Cold treatment includes the following medicines:
- Antihistamines can relieve cough and runny nose.
- Cough suppressant medicines.
- Medicines to relieve nasal congestion, usually in the form of drops.
It has been shown in a number of researches that treating colds with zinc tablets (Zinc) along with vitamin C (Vitamin C), and herbs can be useful and effective in treating cold symptoms.
There is no need for antibiotic treatment, as it has not been proven effective in treating the common cold.
Antiviral therapy, whether combined with or without anti-inflammatory drugs, has been shown to relieve symptoms and even shorten the course of the disease.
Ways to prevent colds:
- Wash hands well with soap and water.
- Avoid touching the face and eyes if hands are not washed.
- Disinfect surfaces periodically.
- Strengthening the immune system, by getting enough sleep and playing sports.