Colds, or upper respiratory tract infections, are the most common cause of illness in children and adults. Most colds are caused by a virus. There are over 200 types of viruses that can cause the common cold, which is why it’s not possible to be immunised against a cold.
Colds are more common in the winter months. Cold weather by itself does not increase the chance of getting a cold. People are in closer contact with each other at this time of year, because they stay indoors, and so are more likely to infect each other. The viruses that cause colds are spread by sneezing, coughing and hand contact.
The symptoms of a cold include various combinations of:
• A stuffy or runny nose
• Sore throat
• Red eyes
• Swelling of lymph glands
• Fever (occasionally)
• There may be loss of appetite and, sometimes, nausea and some vomiting.
There is no cure for the common cold. There is no specific treatment that will make the cold go away more quickly.
Symptoms can be relieved in a number of ways:
• Warm drinks will ease a sore throat and dry mouth.
• Nasal drops or spray will ease a blocked nose.
So how do we avoid getting sick this Winter?
1. Wash your hands to keep germs away
2. Keep cold and flu germs off surfaces - Colds and flu are caused by viruses, which can easily pass from person to person, or from surface to person. Clean computer keyboards, phones, doorknobs, pens and other items which we are in constant contact with.
3. Exercise for immunity – working out can help reduce your risk, however if you are already sick and have a temperature, vigorous exercise is not recommended.
What’s the bottom line? Prevention is the key. Some experts say a flu shot is essential and they advise staying in the best possible health year-round. Do the basics -- eat right, sleep right, exercise, and wash your hands.