A cold may last for a week or longer. Children, elderly people, and those in poor health will often find their colds lingering. In the United States, colds account for more visits to the doctor than any other condition. Adults get an average of two to four colds per year, mostly between September and May. Young children suffer from an average of six to eight colds per year. Colds are highly contagious and cold germs can live on a surface up to 48 hours.
Is it a Cold?
Typical cold symptoms include: runny nose, congestion, sneezing, impaired senses of taste and smell, scratchy throat, cough, fever – especially in infants and young children
5 Easy Ways to Prevent a Cold*
- Wash your hands after shaking hands with someone who has a cold or after touching an object they have touched. The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that 90% of viruses are spread by hand-to-hand contact.
- Steer clear of people who have a cold.
- Keep your fingers away from your nose and your eyes to avoid infecting yourself with cold virus particles that you may have picked up.
- Get some fresh air.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Wash Those Hands
The most effective way to prevent a cold will also leave you smiling. Just wash your hands. No need to use anti-bacterial soap unless you are scrubbing for surgery. Instead, rub hands together vigorously with any good soap and warm water for 15 to 30 seconds – about the length of time it takes to sing the happy birthday song to yourself two times. Your hands will be clean and it is hard to feel bad when you are singing!
What Can you do if you catch a Cold?
Congestion, cough and nasal discharge are often treated with a decongestant, antihistamine or a combination of the two. However, people with thyroid disease or high blood pressure should not take decongestants -- check with your doctor. Also be aware that many over the counter remedies contain aspirin which has been linked to Reye Syndrome in children under 18 years of age. Antibiotics are not useful for treating a cold. Cold sufferers report good results from taking the Quik Defense herbal cold and flu remedy at the first sign of cold symptoms. Do drink plenty of liquid. Eight glasses of water or juice will help keep mucous of the nose and throat moist. Some people find pineapple juice clears the mucous and is less upsetting to the stomach than citrus juices.*
Avoid coffee, tea, caffeinated sodas and alcohol. The caffeine and alcohol can cause dehydration. Stay away from smokers; inhaling their smoke will further irritate your throat and make you cough even more.*
Complications of a Cold
The common cold can lead to some serious complications. One frequent complication is a sinus infection and prolonged cough. If you have asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema, your cold may linger on as increased symptoms of those conditions.
Talk to your medical professional if you experience any of the following:*
- unusually severe cold symptoms
- high fever
- ear pain
- sinus type headache
- cough that gets worse while other cold symptoms improve, or
- flare-up of any chronic lung problem, such as asthma.
Fact or Fiction?
Going outside in cold weather will make you catch a cold. There is no evidence to support this idea. The flu and colds are more common in the winter months but that is because viruses spread across the country during those months. Just being outside in cold weather will not make you catch a cold.