Early Symptoms of a Cold? Cut Them Off.

December 8, 2010

The first symptoms of a cold appear as minor irritations in your nose and throat. It may be a few days before more symptoms of a cold appear, and in those few days you can prepare yourself to better endure them. Taking vitamins, resting, and generally giving yourself time to fight the virus is the best way.

There are a couple hundred viruses which can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are responsible for most of them. Infecting the nasal passages, the virus causes an upper respiratory infection, with symptoms of a cold including a runny nose (with green or yellow mucus), nasal congestion, and sneezing. Remember, as part of antibiotic awareness, that antibiotics are ineffective against viruses.

If you have a cough, or otherwise feel like the infection is in your lungs, you may actually have the flu, and should consult this article for tips on dealing with a flu (Click Here).

Other Symptoms of a Cold (can vary by virus or strength of your immune system):

  • Watery Eyes
  • Post Nasal Drip
  • Sore Throat (can be relieved by gargling with salt water)
  • Headache/Body aches
  • Mild Fever
  • Lack of Appetite

Symptoms of a cold generally fade after about a week, although if you have a history of smoking they can last up to 3 days longer. Smoke can also worsen symptoms and increase your chances of catching a respiratory illness like a cold.

Like the flu, a cold is something that must be treated at home. Resting and drinking plenty of fluids is, as always, standard practice, but with a cold in particular making sure you are getting lots of nutrients (Vitamin C and D) from chicken soup/broth or from a supplement may help reduce the duration of cold symptoms.

Most over the counter medicine for colds is more harmful than helpful, especially when given to children. Instead, focus on supporting yourself getting better. Aid your immune system by going easy, and by supplementing with things that will compliment your health (echinacea, for example, is commonly thought to reduce symptoms/duration).

Like Influenza and the stomach flu, colds are easier to catch in the winter months when humidity is low. You can ease symptoms and reduce transmission in your home by employing a humidifier during winter months.

Kids are more likely to get colds, and with them, fevers. In general, kids can get up to a dozen colds a year, while adults get only a few. Having a strong immune system, which means getting plenty of rest, water and nutrients (especially vitamin D), and not succumbing to stress reduces the chances you’ll get a cold.

Crowded public places (daycare, busy shopping centers) are good places to catch a cold, which is most easily spread in the first few days of symptoms. To prevent catching a cold from others, wash your hands frequently, as well as commonly touched items in your home (handles, bathrooms, towels).

Snot and sneezes help make the cold especially contagious, so teach your children (and set an example) to sneeze into tissues than wash hands, and to sneeze into your elbow when you don’t have a tissue.

Complications from a cold (which children are more susceptible to) include ear infections, bronchitis/pneumonia, and sinusitis. A cold may also worsen allergy symptoms. You should see a doctor if you or your child becomes dehydrated, has a high fever, or has other severe symptoms (for example, that cause severe pain). Although some cold viruses can last up to 3 weeks, if your cold lasts more than a week it might be something else and you should see a doctor for a proper diagnoses.

What are your home cold remedies? Any passed down through generations?

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