It’s called the common cold because so many people have symptoms of what is generally known as a viral infection. It is rarely fatal, though it can affect the very young, the very old and the weak more seriously than a healthy adult.

This contagious infection usually comes from rhino viruses and corona viruses, according to the scientific research. The viruses find their way into our systems when we are particularly weak. We have a natural immune system that can fight off many illnesses, but if the body is changing its defenses due to such situations as a deficiency in the D vitamin we are more likely to catch the common cold.

The body usually reacts to an attack from this virus with chills and/or shivering. Most people also experience congestion in the nose and breathing trouble. Often, we cough and sneeze, sometimes in an effort to clear the breathing passages. Sometimes the throat will become sore, as it is inflamed by the viral infection.

Other effects include stiffness in the muscles, muscle pain, even headaches. Because the body is under attack in so many areas, we often feel very tired. Our energy seems drained. Some people (especially children) experience an alarming rise in body temperature (over 100 degrees in children).

The body’s immune system, usually weak to begin with, may be further weakened, making way for even more symptoms of illness. That’s why one of the real effects on the body of the young, old and weak is the danger of pneumonia. Some people also develop more serious conditions that affect the sinuses, the throat and the bronchial tubes.

There is no cure for the common cold, primarily because scientific research has uncovered several different types of the viruses that cause the infection. The old joke is that if you do nothing you will get over a cold in 7 days. If you eat homemade chicken soup and take some medicines you will be over it in about a week!

The best idea for the common cold is to prevent it. This means getting plenty of sleep, eating a balanced diet and making sure the body gets exercise. Medicines sold to people with this viral infection may get rid of symptoms, such as congestion and headache, but there is no medical “cure” for the common cold.

Some agencies report that individual cases of the cold total a billion or more per year in the United States alone. This accounts only for reported cases, in which people seek a doctor’s help. Exposure in day-care centers adds to the numbers for children, as does the fact that very young children may not have developed the necessary resistance to the viruses.

People who experience more disturbing symptoms, such as severe sinus pain, swelling in certain glands and so on should consult with a physician to find out if there are other conditions to be treated.

While the cold is treated lightly by many, it is best to respect this common and potentially dangerous condition.


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Lucas Beaumont
Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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