He sniffles, sneezes, and maybe even has a sore throat and an annoying cough: the common cold can affect us all, from time to time. In this article, we will give you a complete guide about how to cure a cold.
The classic cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, i.e. the nose and throat. Typically it is not dangerous, although it is sometimes perceived as such.
The characteristic symptoms of colds are:
- nasal congestion,
- nasal discharge,
- itching in the throat,
Depending on the virus causing the cold, it is also possible to have:
- decreased appetite,
- muscle aches,
- postnasal discharge,
- sore throat.
In adults and older children, fever is usually absent or low. Young children often have fevers, with temperatures of 37.5-39 °.
Preschoolers have a higher risk of catching a cold frequently, but even healthy adults can get a couple of colds a year; this is the most frequent reason for children absent from school and work by adults and parents often get infected by their children.
How to cure a cold in the newborn
Children and babies are particularly at risk of catching colds and other respiratory diseases because their immune systems are still immature and more susceptible to infections. Although it can be scary, treating a cold is generally not a big problem, even in babies. Although they can last a little longer than adults (up to two weeks), it can actually happen that the virus causes complications (ear infections, or even pneumonia ), but it is not that frequent.
Symptoms tend to be the same as in adults (congested nose, sneezing and possibly fever); generally, no treatments are needed, and the disease tends to resolve spontaneously.
In these cases, antibiotics are usually not necessary because the cause is viral and not bacterial, but it is recommended to contact the pediatrician in case:
- a baby younger than three months has a fever of 38 ° or higher
- an infant aged 3-6 months has a body temperature above 39 °,
- symptoms have persisted for more than three weeks,
- symptoms seem to improve and then worsen again,
- you experience chest pain or blood in the cough sputum,
- breathing difficulties appear (contact the emergency room),
- signs of ear pain appear (inconsolable crying, especially at night),
- any doubtful symptoms occur.
Beyond any remedies prescribed by the pediatrician (such as physiological water washes), it may be useful:
- help the baby to rest,
- keep them hydrated (continue to breastfeed, offer water and other drinks to older children),
- humidify the air in his bedroom or parents’ room for the little ones,
- do not exceed the ambient temperature and blankets.
Causes: How To Cure A Cold
Although there are more than 100 viruses capable of causing colds, the most frequent cause is the rhinovirus (from the Greek rhin, which means “nose”), very contagious, which according to some estimates, would be responsible for about 30-50% of all cases of colds.
Cold symptoms in adults are also caused by viruses that are responsible for other, more serious diseases. These viruses are:
- orthomyxovirus (including influenza A and B viruses, which cause influenza),
- paramyxovirus (including several parainfluenza viruses),
How to cure a cold: Risk factors
Cold viruses are almost always present in the environment, but the following factors can increase the chances of developing symptoms of the infection:
- Age: Infants and preschoolers are susceptible to colds because they have not yet developed resistance to many viruses that can cause the disease. But it’s not just the immune system that makes young children vulnerable. They spend a lot of time with their peers and often ignore basic hygiene rules like washing hands and covering their mouth and nose if they cough or sneeze. A cold in infants can be a problem because it interferes with breastfeeding or breathing through the nose.
- Sex: Some reports indicate a male predominance of infection in children under 3 years of age, which becomes a female predominance in children over 3 years of age. In adults, there is no noticeable difference in infection rates between men and women.
- Immunity: As you grow up, immune resistance to many cold-causing viruses develops. Thus the frequency of colds decreases compared to childhood.
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How to cure a cold: Symptoms
Incubation is approximately 12-72 hours, and complete recovery usually occurs within 7 days for adolescents and adults and within 10-14 days for children.
Occasionally, coughing and congestion in the baby last for 2-3 weeks.
The first symptoms of cold often are
- burning in the throat,
- stuffy or runny nose,
Age-related differences in the manifestation of signs are as follows:
- Infants and preschoolers – Probability of fever, often 38-39 ° C.
- Infants and toddlers – May only have nasal discharge.
- School-age children – They usually complain of nasal congestion, cough and runny nose.
The kids cooled may also have
- sore throat,
- mild fever,
- muscle aches,
- loss of appetite.
- Nasal mucus can be very watery, or thicker and yellowish or greenish in colour.
In adults :
- Nasal dryness or irritation is often the presenting symptom.
- Sore throat or throat irritation are common early symptoms.
- Nasal discharge may be clear and watery or mucopurulent (yellow or green), nasal congestion and sneezing often intensify after 2-3 days.
- You may feel pressure in the face and ear, as well as the loss of the sense of smell and taste.
- Cough affects about 30% of infected individuals, hoarseness about 20%.
- Some patients may experience episodes of vomiting triggered by coughing fits.
- Irritability or restlessness, fever may occur (rare, when present, generally not high), while a red nose is familiar.
- Finally, the fact of slightly enlarged, painless cervical lymph nodes is possible.
How long does it last?
Cold symptoms usually appear 2 to 3 days after exposure to the source of the infection. Most colds heal within a week, but some can last up to 2 weeks, especially in little ones.
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Pregnancy: How To Cure A Cold
The cold is one of the most common infections during pregnancy; generally, it has an absolutely benign course and resolves spontaneously, only rarely can complications such as
- and pneumonia.
The cold heals within a few days or weeks, regardless of medication, but the viral infection can pave the way for contamination of the body by other infectious agents, also causing
- and bronchitis.
Sinusitis with persistent cough is a frequent complication. In subjects suffering from asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema, these conditions can worsen due to the cold, and the worsening of symptoms can last for several weeks beyond its resolution. How to cure a cold, a post-infection cough, usually unproductive, can persist for weeks or months and prevent sleep. Consult a doctor in the face of such a cough.
How to cure a cold: Remedies
Time is often the best doctor. This saying may not always be accurate, but it comes very close to reality in the case of a cold. Medicines cannot cure colds, but they can relieve muscle pain, headache, and fever. For this reason, it is generally sufficient to make sure that the organism is in the best possible condition to overcome the infection through:
- stay warm,
- staying hydrated (drink plenty of water).
Before looking at the drugs that can be taken based on a medical rationale, let us remember that in the case of colds, the aerosol is usually useless, better instead resort to fumigations and their moisturizing effect on the mucous membranes; in the case of a medical prescription, clarify with the professional which accessory to use (nose fork, mouthpiece, mask) based on the objective to be pursued.
Children: How To Cure A Cold
You can use or give your child or use paracetamol (Tachipirina®, Efferalgan®) or ibuprofen (Nureflex®, Antalfebal) yourself, paying attention to the advice in the package leaflet regarding age and weight or, better still, contact your pharmacist. It is important to remember that these drugs only make sense in case you need to relieve symptoms such as feeling unwell, fever, or widespread aches because they do not affect a congested nose.
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Aspirin should never be given to children under the age of 16 because such use could increase the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome, a rare but sometimes severe enough to be fatal. To relieve cold symptoms, it may be tempting to give your child over-the-counter medications such as decongestants and antihistamines, but keep in mind that there is little or no scientific evidence for their effectiveness. In fact, decongestants can cause hallucinations, irritability and irregular heartbeat in infants and should not be used for children under the age of twelve without proper medical advice.
In the case of adult patients, in addition to resorting to any anti-inflammatory or paracetamol to find relief from fever and pain, it is possible to resort to decongestants, with the warning to limit the intake of local ones (nasal sprays such as Rinazina®, Rinogutt®, Vick Sinex®,…) a few days of use; a good alternative is oral formulations that combine pain relievers and decongestants, such as Tachifludec or Nurofen Flu and Cold.
How to sleep with a cold?
Often the problem arises of being able to sleep with a stuffy nose; in this case, it may be useful to resort to decongestant sprays in the evening, before going to bed, remembering to limit their use to a few days.
Finally, nasal patches are handy.
What to eat?
It is recommended to adopt a diet rich in liquids to favour the thinning mucus in the cold. And the famous hot broth? There is no evidence that drinking broth can cure colds, but sufferers have been blindly believing it for more than 800 years. Why? The chicken broth contains an amino acid (cysteine) capable of thinning the mucus (the sulfhydryl group can open the disulphide bridges of the glycoproteins in the mucus, increasing its fluidity and favouring mucociliary clearance, i.e. the expulsion through the cilia of the respiratory system).
Finally, some research shows, albeit in vitro, that chicken broth helps keep the white blood cells responsible for congestion (neutrophils) under control. The best thing to do, however, is not to worry about overeating or to starve when you have a cold and fever; you need to make sure you eat when you are hungry and take plenty of fluids, such as water or fruit juice, which will help replenish those lost with fever and mucus production. Instead, avoid caffeinated drinks, such as Coca Cola® and Red Bull®, which increase urination frequency and, therefore, the risk of dehydration.
Why can’t you feel the flavours?
It is a common experience that during episodes of colds, the sense of taste is reduced. This happens because nasal congestion obviously reduces the sense of smell, and since the perception of taste is largely linked to odours, the sensation of taste is also lost.
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What to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
As there are no specific drugs to shorten the course, only symptomatic drugs are prescribed (Tachipirina, generally considered safe in pregnancy ). However, it must be evaluated with particular caution in pregnancy because different categories commonly used in these cases (antihistamines, decongestants, etc.) are contraindicated in pregnant women.
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Antibiotics and colds: How To Cure A Cold
The antibiotics are needed only if your doctor diagnosis a bacterial infection. Your doctor may prescribe other medications or advise on how to relieve cold symptoms, but antibiotics aren’t necessary to treat a cold or nasal discharge.
Since a virus causes the common cold, antibiotics won’t help. A nasal discharge or cold will almost always heal on its own. So it’s best to wait and only take antibiotics if they are actually needed. Taking unnecessary antibiotics can be dangerous and cause unwanted effects such as diarrhea, rash, nausea, and stomach pain. More serious side effects may occasionally occur, for example, life-threatening allergic reactions, kidney toxicity, and intense skin reactions.
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Whenever an antibiotic is taken or administered to a child, the risk of making the bacteria habitually host to the organism (on the skin, in the intestine, in the mouth, in the nose.) resistant to antibiotics. Common antibiotics fail to heal infections caused by these resistant bacteria.
Among the most effective approaches to relieve the discomfort caused by colds in children and adults are:
- washing of the nostrils with physiological water to relieve nasal congestion (they are on sale in any pharmacy and are also referred to as saline nasal drops),
- blow your nose regularly, but without excessive pressure to avoid a rebound effect,
- to blow your nose prefer paper handkerchiefs,
- using a humidifier to increase the humidity of the air,
- balsamic ointments for older children and adults,
- disinfectant candies to relieve sore throat (for children over 3 years of age and adults),
- a warm bath or hot water bottle to relieve pain,
- hot vapours to facilitate breathing,
- adoption of a diet rich in liquids to promote mucus thinning
Researchers have not yet determined whether taking zinc or vitamin C supplements can shorten the duration of symptoms and decrease their severity. But large doses taken daily can cause side effects. The results of most research on herbal remedies, such as echinacea, are either negative or unconvincing.
To date, the evidence available on the usefulness of taking probiotic supplements ( lactic ferments ) for the prevention of colds and other respiratory diseases is weak, even if in some ways interesting and promising. Consult with your doctor before giving your child any herbal remedies or a higher than recommended daily dose (RDA) of any vitamin or supplement. If you smoke, it would be advisable to do everything possible to quit or reduce, at least during the illness; smoking can further irritate the throat and increase coughing.
No vaccine can prevent colds because many viruses can cause them. To decrease the risk, you can:
- Try to stay away from smokers or people with colds. Viruses can travel up to three and a half meters in the air when a chilled person coughs or sneezes, and secondhand smoke can predispose children and adults to infection.
- Avoid closed and crowded places as much as possible.
- Avoid all factors that cause the weakening of the upper respiratory tract defences. Such as (alcohol, cigarettes, exposure to irritating fumes or dust).
- Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially after blowing your nose.
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
- Don’t use the same towels or dishes as someone with a cold, and don’t drink from the same glass, can, or bottle as other people. You can’t know in advance if someone has caught a cold and is already spreading the virus.
- Do not use tissues already used by others.
- Finally, we remember that a healthy lifestyle is really the best way to protect yourself from small and large colds, although often underestimated. A diet was rich in fruit and vegetables. Accompanied by regular physical activity is certainly the best strategy to prevent colds. As well as obviously the much more fearful cardiovascular and oncological diseases.