You wake up in the morning and the signs are all too familiar — fever, chills, runny nose, sore throat, and chest congestion. Yes, you have caught the dreaded common cold. It seems as though you just recovered from it. So why are you sick again you ask?
What is the Common Cold?
What is referred to as the common cold is actually a group of different strains of the rhinovirus. After contracting one strain, you will become immune to that particular one for two years. Unfortunately, there are over 200 different viruses which cause the cold. It is quite possible to have a cold year round! The cold is more prevalent in winter months because people tend to stay indoors and are closer together thereby passing the virus along becomes relatively easy.
How is the Common Cold Spread?
The cold virus is spread through breathing in the aerosolized particles (from droplets in the air left when an infected person coughs or sneezes). The common cold can also be contracted when touching a person or surface which has been exposed to the virus and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus will find its way into the body through the mucous membranes. After a 3 to 10 day incubation period, symptoms begin to appear. Since antibiotics will not help cure the common cold, it must run its course, usually taking a week to ten days for full recovery. Bed rest, plenty of fluids, and sleep will help a person with the cold.
The best steps to take in preventing a cold can be found in simple hygiene and etiquette. Washing your hands frequently and covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing are the easiest front-line defenses in preventing the annoyance and misery of a common cold. Washing your hands before eating and touching your eyes or nose will help to reduce your chances of catching the common cold.