The Common Cold
Whether you’re training for a road race on foot, a cycling race, or you just enjoy exercising and training as a stress reliever, getting a cold can really ruin your workout schedule. The common cold is made up of mild symptoms, such as sneezing, a scratchy throat, and a runny nose according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Symptoms typically last about 1-2 weeks.
Causes of the Common Cold:
More than 200 different viruses can cause the symptoms of the common cold, says the NIAID. A cold enters the body through the mouth and nose when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks, says an article on the common cold on the Mayo Clinic’s website, but it can also be spread through touch.
Rhinovirus grows inside the human nose and is most active in early fall, spring and summer, according to WebMD. Rhinovirus is responsible for as little as 10 percent to as much as 50 percent of all colds.
Coronaviruses cause about 15% of colds mainly in winter and early spring. Coronavirus is difficult to grow in a lab, so scientists don’t know as much about this virus. Only about 3-4 types of the more than 30 kinds of coronavirus infect humans.
RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) can lead to more serious illness, including lower respiratory tract infections, including pneumonia, mostly in children. RSV in adults is much more mild.
Age, immunity and the time of year are all factors that can help cause a cold. Infants and preschool children are more likely to get colds because they have not developed resistance, or immunity, to the viruses that cause them, says the Mayo Clinic. Seasons can also cause colds, but not for the reason you might think. It isn’t the cold weather that causes illness, but that people are indoors more, which increases the chances of a virus spreading from person to person.
Preventing the Common Cold:
The NIAID suggests several ways to reduce the chances of contracting the common cold or passing it to other people:
- Wash hands often and keep your hand away from your eyes and nose. Teach your children to wash their hands. Use alcohol-based products to disinfect your hands if water is not available, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). See this article by the CDC on the correct way to wash your hands.
- Avoid being in close proximity with people who have colds
- If you have a cold, avoid being close to others.
- Sneeze and cough into your elbow, not your hands, and teach your children to do so.
- Rhinoviruses can live up to three hours on your skin and objects, such as phones and railings. Use a virus-killing disinfectant on surfaces such as these to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Treating the Common Cold:
- There is not a cure for the common cold, but there are ways to treat colds that will help you feel more comfortable and help fight off the virus. Here are a few tips from WebMD:
- Get lots of rest, even 12 hours if you need it. Make the room warm and humid.
- Drink lots of water to help mucus flow more freely and reduce congestion.
- Tylenol, not aspirin, is recommended to fight aches and pains accompanied by a 100.5 ore higher fever.
- For a sore throat, gargle with a salt water solution of ½ teaspoon salt in 1 cup of water.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants with pseudoephedrine can temporarily help dry and clear nasal passages. Using them for more than five days in a row, however, can cause a “rebound” effect and make mucus and congestion worse.
- OTC cough suppressants with dextromethorphan can help if a cough is disrupting sleep or making it difficult to talk. Otherwise, cough as needed to help get germs and mucus out of your throat and lungs.
- Eat healthy and take supplements, especially those containing vitamin C and zinc.