The cold and flu season is upon us. Learn what the common cold really is, how it spreads, what you can do to prevent it, and how to treat it once you are sick.
I’ve been seeing a surge of snotty patients lately – no, not the kind of snotty you're thinking of. The reason their noses are turned up is because they're dripping. In fact, I’ve been seeing several sad snotty noses each day. When this happens each year, I realize that the cold and flu season is now full force, and think to myself “Here we go again!” I have discussed the flu virus previously, and since the common cold is, well, more common, I thought it would be a good time to tackle it..
What Is the Common Cold?
The common cold is caused by several different viral groups, including adenovirus, coronavirus, and rhinovirus, to name just a few. It is not caused by bacteria – bacteria and viruses are very different bugs.
The common cold, or an “upper respiratory infection,” as doctors call it, is spread very quickly from person-to-person, either by touching infected surfaces or by droplets in the air. That’s why when one person in the household or at work get sick, everyone else soon follows. Contrary to popular myth, colds are not caused by cold weather. Colds are simply more common in the cold winter season.
Symptoms of the Common Cold
The cold viruses are notoriously famous for causing the snottiness I mentioned earlier - nasal symptoms, that is. So if you become ill with a runny or stuffy nose, it’s highly likely caused by the common cold virus. Here are a few other common symptoms:
- Malaise (An overall feeling of ill-being)
- Sore throat
- Mucus (Despite common myth, mucus color does not define severity. Think about it: boogers are green, white, clear, or brown)