Monday, February 27, 2012

Common Cold : Demystified!

Have you ever noticed how medicine commercials for common cold have this one human figure , who always is Glowing, or has a bright aura,  or is always being attacked by monsters, or certain areas around the nose have caught fire , areas around the head have incoming arrows?

I am that human figure today and my nose is changing colours, between Yellow and Red.

Thankfully there aren't any arrows pointing all over my body ( signifying body ache).
Thankfully my brain has not become Red in colour (indicating head ache).

I am simply suffering from common cold.

What is common cold?
A set of symptoms that we call Common cold are caused by a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract( Nasal cavity, Pharynx, Larynx). This may happen due to infection by a variety of viruses, as many as 200, Rhinovirus being the most common.

Essentially, there is no such things as common cold that we refer to. These are only symptoms caused by the several viruses that may affect the respiratory tract.

How does it happen?

The virus deposits itself on to the cells of your nose and causes cell damage. Our body senses the presence and as a defense mechanism trigger the release of inflammatory mediators. Inflammation ( Etymology: Ignite/set alight) is a part of  a response to harmful external stimuli. This is a part of the mechanism of the Innate Immune System , also known as the Non-Specific Immune system i.e. the first line of defense.

This inflammation and activity of the non-specific immune system then produce the symptoms of common cold i.e. running nose, irritation, sore throat etc.

Infact all these are an indication that your body is fighting the virus to eliminate it from the system.
As a defense mechanism the system opens up the blood vessels and releases more fluid and white blood cells to get rid of the virus that caused cell damage.The extra fluid gives you a running nose and the stuffy feeling.

Funny, that that it is infact your own body that causes the symptoms of a common cold.. for your good albeit!

How does it spread?
  • Picking up the virus from an infected person
  • Catching the virus from infested air
  • Catching the virus from a door knob/money/ infested surface etc.
  • Rubbing eyes with infested fingers
  • Inserting infested fingers into your nose .. hahahaha.. always funny!!
  • and other similar situations stated bove

Why is it called common COLD? Does it occur only during cold weather?
No. 
It is believed that:  
  • Cold viruses survive outside the host for a longer time in a dry climate and hence may spread more easily during dry winters and summers both
  • During winters our nasal passages become dry and thus it becomes easy for the virus to pass through the passage, but again it only requires entry into the nasal package.
  • During winters synthesis of Vitamin D is low due to low exposure to sunlight, thus reducing the immunity to such infections  
  • During the cold season people stay indoors and gather in crowds indoors which facilitates easy person to person spreading of the virus. 
  • Also, may be we avoid washing our hands in winters as frequently as we would normally do.

Does taking Zinc and Vitmain C tablets help in alleviating the symptoms?

No. Studies suggest that taking daily doses of Vitmain C only shortens the duration of the cold.Thus, an average adult only suffers ONE DAY LESS a year from old, if he/she has taken high doses of vitmain C that year.
Zinc also has minimal benefits.

Suggested Remedies for Colds: 
  1. Take appropriate medication
  2. Drinking plenty of fluids to relieve congestion
  3. Inhale steam to ease congestion
  4. Blow your nose - one nostril at a time to prevent phlegm from moving further down the system
  5. Gargle with salt water to ease soar throat
  6. Drink hot liquids to ease congestion and soothe nose membranes 
  7. Let the body do its job! It knows what to do!
All the best.
Get well soon!
Gute Besserung!
Word gou gesond!
Krya på dig!
Phila masinya!

Cheers!

References:

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