By Bernard Freeman
Most adults have as many as three colds a year and children have them a lot more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Colds are caused by a virus, the most common being rhinovirus. Other cold-causing critters include respiratory syncytial virus, human parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, human coronavirus and human metapneumovirus.
Though colds can occur any time of year, most people get them in the winter and spring. Symptoms include:
- Sore throat;
- Runny nose;
- Headaches; and
- Body aches.
These should resolve in seven to 10 days, but a cold can develop into a more serious illness like bronchitis or pneumonia.
Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. Teach your children to do this, also. If there’s no soap, use a hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and stay away from people who are sick. If you’re sick, stay home and don’t spread your germs to others.
There’s no cure, but over-the-counter medicines can treat your symptoms. For children, talk to a doctor before administering cold medications.
Rest and get plenty of fluids, and run a clean humidifier or cool-mist humidifier. Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain and fever.
For a sore throat: Soothe it with ice chips, popsicles, lozenges or a spray; gargle with salt water and drink warm beverages.
For ear pain: Put a warm, moist compress on the affected ear.
For a runny nose: Increase your fluid intake and use a decongestant or saline nasal spray.
For sinus pain and congestion: Put a warm compress over the nose and forehead; use a decongestant or saline nasal spray; breathe in steam from hot water or a shower.
For cough: Breathe in steam from a hot water or shower; use lozenges or honey.