Hard Cold Facts
January 3, 2008
Sneezing, scratchy throat, runny nose -- everyone knows the first signs of a cold. And everyone has an opinion about how you get a cold and how you treat a cold. Today, UT Health Center's Dr. Mom reports the cold hard facts about colds.
Colds are minor infections of the nose and throat that are caused by over 200 different viruses. A cold may last one week or more, and they are highly contagious. Adults suffer with 2-4 colds per year while children suffer 6-8 colds per year.
Colds are spread when droplets of fluid that contain the cold virus are transferred by touch. The viruses do not multiply on environmental surfaces, but they can still be transferred and still be infectious.
Cold symptoms include:
Lower the possibility of getting a cold by:
- Runny nose
- Scratchy throat
- Loss of taste and smell
- Not feeling well in general
I have a cold. What can I do?
- Wash your hands often, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer! Germs are easily passed from one person to another by shaking hands, touching doorknobs and handrails.
- Avoid people who are sick
- Use a germ killing disinfectant
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes where germs easily enter your body
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Eat a healthy diet to help your body fight infection
- When you sneeze or cough, use a tissue and dispose of it properly, and WASH YOUR HANDS!
- Take an over the counter cough and cold medicine that can help relieve symptoms
- Use a humidifier to help ease congestion
- Stay home to prevent spreading the cold virus
For more information:
- Feed a cold, starve a fever – actually it is better to eat a healthy diet in order to give your body the nutrients it needs to fight infection
- Antibiotics can cure a cold – colds are caused by viruses and antibiotics cure bacterial infections, not viruses.
- Taking extra vitamin C will keep me from getting a cold – studies have not shown that vitamin C prevents colds.
- You can catch a cold from being out in the cold weather – colds are common in the winter months because that is when the viruses are most active. The cold virus is transferred through fluid droplets that contain the cold virus.
- Cold symptoms usually last at least a week or more, but if symptoms persist or worsen, call your primary care physician.