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Will there ever be a cure for the common cold in the future? Will we be able to get rid of the cold forever? These are questions that many people are asking themselves. Actually, many people still do not know what a common cold is.

What Is a Common Cold?

First, we need to understand there are many bacteria-causing diseases, many of which undergo genetic changes over time. These genetic changes make bacteria resistant as they have been developing for millions of years. At this moment, bacteria are starting to show signs of resistance to medicines we use, which is a big problem. That is why they will probably continue to be a constant, though and potentially deadly nuisance for us humans. The only solution would be to have all disease-causing organisms removed from the Earth, and we simply cannot get rid of all of Earth’s bacteria.

In fact, our normal digestion, for example, relies on Escherichia coli bacteria that live in our intestines. Without this bacterium, we would cease to exist. Other bacteria that break down things such as dead leaves, animals, and trees are essential in the process of returning nutrients to the earth and keep our environment functional. Even things like hair or skin cells would quickly accumulate if there were no bacteria to quickly break them back down to their basic components. [1]

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When a person becomes infected, bacteria invade the cells and the result is a typical feeling of sickness. By the time when we feel sick, the bacteria has already invaded and won, at least temporarily. Our body’s resistance to the invasion involves the production of immune cells to fight the virus. Our organism needs time to battle and win. We use a medicine called antibiotics to aid in this battle. We commonly use aspirin, sinus medicine, and other drugs that counteract some of the histaminic reactions – our body’s reactions produced in response to the invasion. [2]

For now, the only solution would be preventing the common cold through immunization (vaccines). Viruses and not only bacteria cause most common colds, so we would all like to make a vaccine that would protect us against these viruses. It should work the same way as the vaccine that protects us from polioviruses. Unfortunately, cold viruses change their coat proteins rather quickly, which means that our immune systems trained to find one type of coat would not find the new one. That is why vaccines are not particularly effective in preventing the common cold. This is also why we still cannot find a cure for AIDS, since the HIV virus has the same quality. [3]

Why we call it a “common” cold

Other names for the cold are upper respiratory tract infection, URI, nasopharyngitis, and viral rhinosinusitis. This problem is referred to as a common cold for a reason — your child will probably have more colds than any other type of illness. Most kids have had eight to ten colds by their second birthdays. Furthermore, they continue throughout childhood, and their parents can only separate them from other children while the illness runs its course. This is also the most common reason that children miss school and parents miss work. If anything, using the term “common cold” is an understatement according to this explanation.

We all know our body has a relatively small number of symptoms with which to respond to an ever-changing, wide variety of viruses. These symptoms are often the body’s attempt to get rid of the virus and to minimize the damage that viruses make. Sneezing ejects the virus from the nose, coughing from the lungs and throat, vomiting from the stomach, and diarrhea ejects viruses from the intestines. Fever makes it difficult for the virus to reproduce, and those are all ways our body fights. The common cold is our name for a specific constellation of symptoms, a pattern of illness caused by a variety of different viruses. Over two hundred different types of viruses can cause the cold that people experience, and Rhinoviruses (nose viruses), are the most common. Respiratory syncytial virus, adenovirus, enterovirus, and a host of others can also produce colds in humans. Most people are sick with each specific strain of cold virus only once during their lifetime. [2]

Who Gets the Common Cold?

Colds are the most prevalent infectious disease, and children average 3 to 8 colds per year. In fact, younger children and boys are on the higher end of the range. Children are the major reservoir of the many cold viruses, and they usually get colds from other children. When a new strain is introduced into a school or daycare, it quickly travels through the class, infecting children. 

Parents get about half as many colds as their children do, and mothers tend to get at least one more cold per year than dads. Colds can occur year-round, but they occur mostly in the winter. It happens even in areas with mild winters. In areas where there is no winter, colds are most common during the rainy season.

What are the symptoms of the common cold?

The three most frequent symptoms of a cold are: 

  • Nasal stuffiness (a stuffed nose)
  • Sneezing 
  • A runny nose 
  • Throat irritation [2]

Adults and older children with colds generally have minimal or no fever at all. Infants with a common cold often run a fever in the 100-102 degrees range (38-39 Celsius).  

Once you have caught a common cold, the symptoms usually begin in 1 to 5 days. Typically, irritation in the nose or a scratchy feeling in the throat is the first sign, followed within the hour by sneezing and a watery nasal discharge. Within one to three days, the nasal secretions usually become thicker and yellow or green in most cases. This is a normal part of the common cold and not a reason for antibiotics, as some people might think. During this period, a child’s eardrums are usually congested and there may be fluid behind the ears, regardless of whether or not the child will end up with a true bacterial infection. Depending on which virus is the culprit, the virus might also produce a headache, cough, postnasal drip, burning eyes, muscle aches, or a decreased appetite. Still, if it is indeed a cold, the most prominent symptoms will happen in the nose.

By the way, forcing a child to eat when he or she has a decreased appetite due to a cold is both unnecessary and unhelpful. However, you should encourage them to drink plenty. For children with asthma, colds are the most common trigger of asthma symptoms, and they are the most common precursor of ear infections as well.

Is the Common Cold Contagious?

When someone has a cold, the nasal secretions are teeming with viruses that primarily caused the cold. 

Coughing, drooling, and talking are all less likely ways to pass a cold to another person. Sneezing, nose blowing, and nose wiping are the means by which the virus spreads from an infected person to a new person. 

You can catch a cold by inhaling the virus if you are sitting close to someone who’s sneezing. You could also get infected by touching your nose, eyes, or mouth after you’ve touched something contaminated by infected nasal secretions.

How long does the common cold last?

The entire cold is usually over all by itself in about seven days, probably with a few lingering symptoms for another week. If it lasts longer, you should consider another problem, such as a sinus infection or allergies that cause similar symptoms. To understand the difference better, you should know that we define the common cold as a short-term, contagious, viral illness with nasal stuffiness, sneezing, runny nose, throat irritation, and little or no fever. The diagnosis is based on identifying the appropriate symptoms, exposure, and time course. [2]

Although we know this, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish a cold from other problems such as allergies, influenza, strep throat, or sinus infections. A history and physical exam, sometimes with supporting lab work, will usually make the distinction and establish an appropriate diagnosis.

How to Get Rid of the Common Cold Quickly?

It is most important to know that we should not use antibiotics to treat a common cold

Thick yellow or green nasal discharge is not a reason for antibiotics, unless it lasts for 10 to 14 days without improvement. In this case, the diagnosis could be sinusitis, so your doctor should perform a check-up.

Most cold treatments aim to control troublesome symptoms the patients are experiencing. New anti-viral drugs could make runny noses completely clear up a day sooner than usual. They are also able to begin easing the symptoms within a day. It is unclear whether the benefits of these drugs outweigh the risks. 

Many people use chicken soup for treating common respiratory illnesses, as they have been doing at least since the 12th century. Research published in the October 2000 explains why this home remedy has held on for so long. The only answer is —  because it may really help improving common cold symptoms. In addition to the infection-fighting benefits of the heat, hydration, and salt, these researchers looked at the direct biologic activity of the soup itself. [4]

There are also many other home remedies that are popular treatments for the common cold, and these include vitamin C, zinc supplements, and echinacea. However, some home remedies are not safe for some people as they may: 

  • Cause side effects or allergic reactions.
  • Change the way other medicines work. [5]

To assist your body’s defenses and to help relieve certain symptoms, we suggest only these tips without antibiotic usage. The reason is that antibiotics have no effect on viruses, while our body contains both harmful and helpful bacteria, so antibiotics may have an unwanted side-effect on these helpful bacteria. Bacteria eventually become resistant to antibiotics, after they have been exposed to them often enough. That is why you should try to fight common cold with proven ways and without antibiotics.
 

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