Common cold or simply cold is a frequently experienced condition by almost everyone. It is one of those health conditions that can be managed at home efficiently with the help of adequate rest, natural home remedies and least medications.
Cold is nothing but a mild form of viral infection of the upper respiratory, which is the nose and throat. Cold tends to affect different people differently and may also show a different intensity and a varied set of signs and symptoms in different patients. Similarly, each person’s reaction towards cold depends entirely on their constitution type and their level of immunity.
Generally, recovering from cold does not take longer than a week. In certain patients, signs, and symptoms resolve in less than a week, while in others certain complaints tend to persist even the standard period of recovery. This article will help you understand all about cold and when to see a doctor for a cold.
Causes For Cold
Cold can occur due to exposure to a large number of viruses. Irrespective of the causative virus, re-infection is possible due to exposure to the same virus or a different virus strain.
Modes Of Spread Include
- Direct contact – By touching, shaking hands or coming in contact with secretions or expectoration of a person having cold
- Indirect contact – Cold viruses tend to survive on surfaces such as bedding of an infected person, door, and tables. Touching the mouth, nose or skin after coming in contact with such surfaces can cause the spread of infection
- Inhalation – Since cold is an illness of the respiratory tract, inhalation of viruses present in the atmosphere or inhalation of droplets when an infected patient coughs or sneezes can cause cold.
Increased Risk Of Development Of Cold Can Be Seen In The Following Conditions
- Psychological or emotional stress
- Frequent occupational exposure to infected persons as in hospitals and clinics
- Lack of sleep or disturbed sleep
- Immunodeficiency disorders
- Pre-existing illnesses or chronic diseases
- Cigarette smoking
- Children and elderly people
- Pregnant women
Signs And Symptoms Of Cold
- Runny nose
- Excessive watering of eyes
- Congestion of the upper respiratory tract like the throat, nasal passage, and sinuses
- Sore throat, cough, and sneezing
- Constitutional symptoms like fever, generalized weakness and loss of appetite
- Whitish to purulent or pus-like mucus discharge from the nose or throat
When To See A Doctor For Cold?
Although it is possible to manage cold at home with the help of medications and natural home remedies. Yet, it is equally important to know that you need to visit the doctor for cold if you belong to any of the high-risk group of patients. This is because the intensity of illness tends to great in such patients; also, these patients are highly susceptible to experience complications of the common cold.
Some of The Complications of Cold May Be
- Secondary bacterial infection of the sinuses
- Lower respiratory tract infections
- Ear infections may occur if the upper respiratory tract infection spreads to the ear via the Eustachian tube (a tiny tube that connects the middle ear and the throat for draining of the middle ear).
You Need To See The Doctor For Cough And Cold Under The Following Circumstances
- If fever rises beyond 102 degrees Fahrenheit and does not respond to medications
- If the patient is an infant, child or an elderly person
- If the patient is a pregnant or a lactating woman
- In cases of fever lasting for more than one week
- If signs and symptoms persist for more than a week in spite of being on treatment for cold
- If signs and symptoms worsen or increase in severity in spite of being on treatment
If Signs And Symptoms Of Ear Infection Are Present Such As
- Ear pain
- The sensation of fullness or stuffiness inside the ear
- Dizziness since the onset of ear pain
- Mucopurulent or bloody discharge from the ear
- Tinnitus or sensation of ringing or buzzing sounds inside the ear
If Sign And Symptoms Are Suggestive Of Secondary Bacterial Infections Of The Upper Respiratory Tract Such As
- Enlarged and painful tonsils
- Formation of pus pockets on the tonsils or around the tonsils
- Difficulty and pain in swallowing foods and liquids
- Facial pain especially over infected sinuses – Suggestive of sinusitis
- Postnasal discharge of mucopurulent or blood in mucus
If Signs And Symptoms Suggestive Of Lower Respiratory Tract or Pneumonia Are Present Such As
- Increased cough
- Wheezing sounds on breathing
- Muco-purulent or bloody expectoration from lungs on coughing
- Pain in the chest while breathing in
If Signs And Symptoms Suggest Severe Complications Such As
- Unusual dullness and drowsiness
- Reduced response to surroundings
- Complete lack of appetite
Managing cold is relatively simple as it subsides within a week without too many complications. Yet, it is essential to understand certain warning signs and symptoms which indicate greater severity of cold and its complications.
Management Of Cold
Management of cold is generally intended to provide symptomatic relief to patients. Medications prescribed by doctors for managing cold include
- Paracetamol in case of fever
- Antihistamines to control symptoms like sneezing and runny nose
- Decongestants may be prescribed to provide relief from nasal congestion and stuffiness
- Antiviral medications for patients belonging to the high-risk groups
- Antibiotics may be prescribed if secondary bacterial infections like tonsillitis, sinusitis or ear infections are present.
- Some home-based methods of dealing with a cold include:
- Steam inhalation relieves the air passages from congestion
- Natural anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory foods such as warm turmeric milk, garlic cloves, ginger tea or with honey – These foods aid in fighting infection and enhancing recovery
- Plenty of rest
- A lot of fluids in the form of water, juices, soups, and beverages
Doing so not only helps one to seek either through personal or online consultation with a certified doctor but also helps in preventing serious health conditions which may occur as a result of these complications.
Dr. Himanshi is a Homoeopathic consultant and currently working as a lecturer in Post-graduate faculty of Homeopathy, Parul University, Vadodara. Completed BHMS and MD in Homeopathy in January 2018 and also has a clinical experience of about 6 years. Personal interests include reading, spending time with family and traveling.