January 3, 2013

What is a Head Cold?

Filed under: head cold — Tags: , , , — drwatson @ 2:40 pm

An average person is likely to go through a cold or a head cold two to three times a year. It’s one of those diseases that are not considered serious, do not have cure, but cause aggravation and pain to more people than any other disease in the world.

Some say that “head cold lasts one week without any remedy and seven days with medicines.”

 

What is a Head Cold?

A head cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. It affects your nose, throat and head.

For a long time, people believed that we get the cold when the weather turns chilly and we, well, get cold. The name stuck, even though we know you can get a cold any time of the year. Even in tropical countries.

The same is the case with the term ‘head cold’. About half of the people who have the common cold suffer from headaches, which come from congested sinuses.

Head colds and colds are the same. The same virus is responsible, whether you have a headache or not.

 

Head Cold Symptoms

Interestingly, the cold virus is not actually responsible for all of the annoying symptoms that come with a head cold.

The virus is causing damage to our cells. It is our immune system that reacts to the presence of the virus and causes all the symptoms we suffer.

That’s why colds look so much like allergies.

While not every person will get all of these symptoms, the most recognizable head cold symptoms are:

  • Fatigue
  • Sore muscles
  • Runny nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Slight fever (high fever with children)
  • Headache
  • Lack of appetite

The symptoms develop slowly, and you will feel them about two to three days after you have been exposed to the virus.

 

How Do You Get a Head Cold?

Head colds are usually transmitted via airborne droplets. We can be infected when someone who has a cold sneezes near us.

We can also get infected by touching a contaminated object: something that was touched by an infected person. People with colds are most contagious during the first two to three days of the disease.

Why are head colds more common in winter? We spend more time indoors, in a close environment. There are just more chances to spread colds that way.

Knowing how the virus is transmitted helps us to stay away from it. One of the most effective ways to not get a cold is regular hand washing and avoiding touching your face with your hands. Hands are the first to pick up contaminants.

 

Head Cold Treatment

While there is no real cure for the head cold, there are many ways of alleviating the symptoms.

Some people swear that the best head cold treatment is good old chicken soup. Others prefer hot tea with lemon and honey.

Two existing antiviral drugs used for flu – Tamiflu and Relenza – may help with the symptoms and might shorten the time spent being sick.

Antibiotics are of no use. Still, some doctors prescribe them because patients expect something.

The best head cold treatment is to treat each individual head cold symptom separately.

Congested sinuses, which cause the headache of a head cold, can be cleared with a decongestant or with a saline rinse. A sea water rinse is the latest craze.

Sore throats can be treated with cold syrups or lozenges. Hot tea or hot toddy would probably do equally good job.

If you can, give your head cold a rest. Try to sleep it off, rest as much as you can, and drink a lot of liquids. While it might not make your head cold disappear, it will help you feel better, faster.

Of course, the best way to deal with a head cold is not to get it in the first place. Try boosting your immune system and letting it deal with any and all viruses that might come your way. Echinacea is widely used to help with immunity, but there is not much scientific support for its efficacy. The same is the case with garlic and honey. Zinc is also recommended as an immune system booster.

Don’t forget that the best way to keep your system strong and ready to resist viral attacks is regular exercise and healthy balanced diet.

Information provided on this website is for general purposes only. It is not intended to take the place of advice from your practitioner.

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