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Common Cold - An Overview

Common cold is a viral infection of the respiratory tract mostly affecting the nose and the throat. It is generally harmless but leads to runny nose, sneezing, cough and sore throat, watery eyes and congestion.

Causes of Common Cold

More than 100 viruses can cause common cold, out of which the most common and contagious one is rhinovirus. The virus enters the body through eyes, nose and mouth. This virus can spread further in air through sneezing, coughing as well as by hand contact and sharing of contaminated objects.

Symptoms of Common Cold

The symptoms of common cold include:

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Head and body aches
  • Low fever
  • Watery eyes

At times, fatigue can also be a symptom of common cold.

If the symptoms continue for more than 10 days, the person must see the doctor. In most cases high fever is accompanied by cough, chills and sweat, severe sinus pain and swollen glands. In children, the symptoms of common cold include fever, headache, vomiting, unusual sleepiness, ear pain, abdominal pain, cough and so on.

Diagnosis of Common Cold

In order to diagnose common cold, the doctor may conduct a physical examination and ask questions about medical history. The doctor will also examine lungs, throat, sinuses and ears.

Treatment of Common Cold

Common cold cannot be cured with antibiotics as they do not work against viruses of common cold. Given below are few of mostly used common cold remedies.

Pain relievers: Pain relievers can help relieve sore throat, headache and fever. When used over a longer period it can cause damage to the liver.

Cough syrups: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend cough syrups as they don't help in curing or treating the root cause of cold and cough. However they may help for temporary relief of symptoms when used for a short time.

Decongestant nasal spray: Decongestant nasal sprays shouldn't be used for longer period of time as they can cause side effects like inflammation of nasal mucous membranes.

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