We are all aware of a condition that we all had, and some of us encounter it every year: common cold. The familiar symptoms of a nose running, sore throat, and sneezing are instantly connected with common cold and they usually are not the reason to see the doctor.
One of the most important things is that common cold is dangerous for otherwise healthy children and adults in very rare occasions, but it can be dangerous in very small children and older people.
Common cold is a usual condition in children and it's not unusual to see a whole kindergarten group with running noses and sneezing, and it is believed that the reason for that is children's lack of resistance to infection.
If we take into account that in close contact common cold is easily transmitted, it's obvious why a child can have six to 12 colds a year. In families with children in school, the number of colds per child can be as high as 12 a year.
What causes common cold? Today we know that more than 200 viruses cause the symptoms of the common cold. Some of them cause serious conditions almost never, but others can cause serious lower respiratory infections in younger children.
Rhinoviruses are known to cause around 35 percent of all colds, and we are all familiar with them because they are active in early fall, spring and summer.
There are more than 110 rhinovirus types (the Greek word rhin means "nose"), and they like to live at temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius - exactly the temperature of the human nose interior.
The other important group is coronaviruses - they cause a large percentage of all colds in adults, and they cause colds in the winter and early spring.
Some 30 to 50 percent of adult colds remain unidentified: we believe they are viral, but we have no data yet.
How to treat common cold? In uncomplicated cases of the common cold the best cure is resting in bed, drinking plenty of fluid, and using some common medicine to kill the pain and lower down the temperature.
Be aware here: aspirin is a common medicine but children and teenagers should not take aspirin when they have any viral infection because it can cause very serious health condition. In most cases symptoms will go away in one or two weeks.
It is also important to get rid of one very bad habit: antibiotics.
They will not kill viruses because they are used to kill bacteria and "just in case" use is completely useless, it can be dangerous because it can rise bacterial resistant to antibiotics so they won't work when we need them.
Another myth is called vitamin C. Many people, especially older, think that large quantity of vitamin C will prevent common cold, but that's not true. There are no data that large doses of vitamin C can prevent common cold.
True, the vitamin C may reduce symptoms in some people, but too much vitamin C can cause severe diarrhea, a very dangerous condition for older people and small children.
To diagnose common cold means to distinguish between common cold and the more serious flu, which is not always easy for the doctor. Although in most cases cold will go away treated or not, there are cases when it is recommended to see the doctor.
Here we must emphasize fever: adults with a fever of 39 C or higher, and children with 39.5 C and higher should see the doctor.
If your child has a fever that lasts three days or more, symptoms that last for 10 days or, if it has trouble breathing, blue skin color, drainage from the ear, hard time waking up, seizures or cough that worsens as days are passing by - all those condition need to be seen.
If you are an adult and have symptoms that last 10 days ore more, symptoms that get worse instead of better, shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest, feeling like you will faint, if you feel disorientation, have persistent vomiting or strong pain in your face or forehead, then you should seek for a medical advice. ■