How Is A Cold Transmitted?
The most common form of contagion is direct: sneezing, coughing and droplets of saliva allow the direct passage of viruses from one organism to another. Dialogue can also become a cause of direct transmission as small drops of salivary fluid can be involuntarily expelled during the conversation.
The more than 200 viruses responsible for colds can last for about three hours in the external environment. Contagion can therefore also occur indirectly, for example by shaking hands or manipulating contaminated objects . For this reason, it is a good habit to wash your hands well and avoid bringing them to your face after having been in contact with infected people or objects.
At the same time, if you are suffering from a cold, it is a good idea to bring your hands to your mouth when you sneeze or cough to avoid infecting those around you.
The peak of contagiousness occurs in the first 2-3 days of illness, while at the end of the illness the risk of contagion is very low.
The chances of infection are directly proportional to the time of exposure to contaminants.
Cold and Cold
Cold climate, rain, drafts, cold wind and air conditioning are among the major empirically recognized risk factors.
The greater susceptibility to colds in similar circumstances is probably due to the temporary lowering of the defenses of the nose and throat, which occurs following exposure to cold or excessively dry air currents.
We know, for example, that the respiratory tract is lined with vibrating cilia, which with their movements continually push mucus ( a viscous substance that protects against microorganisms by incorporating them and masking the cellular receptors with which they interact) outwards. Viruses and bacteria can therefore exploit the inhibitory action of the cold on the motility of these cilia, to infect the upper respiratory tract.
Cold Symptoms: How Does It Manifest Itself?
Cold symptoms are quite common: stuffy and runny nose , nasal congestion , sore throat sometimes associated with fever , cough, migraine , hoarseness , inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck and muscle pain .
Complete recovery from a cold normally occurs within 5-10 days, but in some cases it may take longer.
If the symptoms persist for more than two weeks without easing, it is best to consider the possible presence of other problems such as sinusitis or allergies .
Therefore, there are no specific treatments for colds, although some drugs, including antihistamines and anti-inflammatories , can alleviate the symptoms. However, aspirin and derivatives should not, under any circumstances, be administered to children under 12 years of age.
Sprays and nebulizers can temporarily resolve the unpleasant sensation of a stuffy nose but it is best not to overuse them.
Fumes and aerosols to clear the airways, balsamic sweets and frequent cleaning of the nose can eliminate at least part of the infected mucus, avoiding the risk of bacterial infections and accelerating healing.
Antibiotics should not be used to treat a common cold . They do not help and can even be harmful (even in the presence of phlegm and yellowish mucus ).
Medicines to treat colds
Chicken broth was used to treat colds as early as the 12th century . Indeed, heat, numerous amino acids (especially cysteine ) and salt can help fight the infection.
In popular traditions there are many alleged remedies, among the most classic are milk with honey and lemon juice with white wine . However, there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of these practices.
Diet And Phytotherapy
Citrus fruits , garlic , wheat germ , millet , sage , celery , berries , strawberries and chestnuts are just some of the foods to which traditional medicine attributes healing properties against colds.
Few studies have been carried out to confirm the therapeutic efficacy of these foods , which generally prove to be completely devoid of beneficial effects.
Peppermint , thyme or eupcalyptus herbal teas and extracts of the Echinacea plant are used in various countries around the world to treat colds and upper respiratory tract infections in general.
Natural remedies against colds
The intake of vitamin C does not appear to have any curative/preventive value, although a good vitamin balance is essential to fortify the immune defenses and ensure the body’s optimal efficiency.
Colds, as we have seen, are caused by a very large set of viruses (over 200). Among all these viruses, the most common are rhinoviruses, whose name derives from the Greek term rhin = “nose”.
The multiplicity of viral agents involved has prevented scientists from developing an effective vaccine , unlike what happened with influenza (whose viral strain is much smaller).
Here are other tips to prevent the disease:
- Don’t use the same napkins or cutlery as someone who has a cold
- Turn around and put your hands, or better yet a tissue, to your mouth when you sneeze
- Wash your hands often, especially before eating
- Try to keep your hands away from your nose and mouth
- Stay healthy, follow a regular physical activity program and combine it with a balanced diet
- Avoid stress as much as possible and rest adequately
- Avoid exposure to bad weather and sudden changes in temperature in general
- Increase the consumption of liquids to make the infected mucus more fluid and facilitate its elimination
- Consume probiotic foods to promote the balance of intestinal bacterial flora .
Fortunately, serious complications are quite rare and mostly affect the ear , trachea and bronchi .
Colds rarely cause excessive increases in body temperature (over 38°C), in these cases it is logical to suspect a form of flu .