Common cold causes, prevention and treatment

Common Cold: Symptoms, How to Prevent Spread and Treatment when Infected



Common cold results from viral infection that affects the nose, throat, sinuses and ears. Common cold is spread through coughing, sneezing, contact with an infected person, or handling objects contaminated with the virus.

Common cold causes, prevention and treatment
Common cold causes, prevention and treatment. Image: Flickr

Symptoms include sore throat, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes and slight fever.

A cold is one of the most debilitating health conditions one can suffer from because it has no medical cure; you can only treat or cope with the symptoms.

How to cope when infected:

  • Treat symptoms with over-the-counter medicine such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, throat lozenges and decongestants.
  • Hydrate with lots of fluids, including water, tea and fruit juices.
  • Treat yourself to a bowl of chicken soup.
  • Moisturize your room(s).
  • Gargle with salty water to soothe a sore throat. Dissolve a ½ teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water to make the gargling solution. Be sure to spit it out.

As mentioned above, most people contract common cold from infected persons.

This means the best preventative strategy is to curb its spread. Here are some suggestions.

How to avoid catching a cold:

  • Avoid being in close proximity to infected persons.
  • Wash your hands after coming into contact with infected persons.
  • Eat lots of fruits with vitamin C.
  • Do not smoke and avoid mingling with smokers as second-hand smoke is as dangerous.
  • Do not touch your nose and mouth, especially when with infected persons or in congested areas.
  • Get enough rest every day.

How to prevent spreading:

  • Do not sneeze directly to other people or into open air. Sneeze or cough into a handkerchief or tissues then dispose them responsibly.
  • Wash your hands once you have disposed the tissues.
  • Avoid touching food or utensils when infected. If you must handle food, wash your hands every so often.
  • Do not share utensils with other people, at least not until they have been washed and dried.
  • When out in public, ensure you mouth or nose does not touch water taps.


Common cold lasts one to two weeks. Seek medical attention if you experience symptoms past two weeks or if you have serious symptoms such as chest pains, swollen nymph nodes, or difficult breathing.

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