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 Fever & Infection

july 2010
How to Deal with Common Cold
Dr Sreedevi Yadavalli
 
The common cold is arguably the most common illness in humans, a leading cause for absenteeism from work and school. Colds are caused by viral infections; over 200 different viruses can cause cold symptoms of varying severity. While it’s impossible to prevent the spread of colds, there are steps you can take to reduce your and your family’s chances of becoming infected.

Wash your hands often
A cold is an airborne infection, which means you could have got it from the door handle you just touched, or the shopping you did in the afternoon. Frequent washing of hands will help destroy viruses acquired from touching surfaces used by other people. You could also carry a hand sanitizer or wet-wipes when visiting public places. Teach your children the importance of hand washing too.

Avoid touching your face
Especially avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. More so if you have been around someone with a cold, or have been to a public area. If you have a cold, then by avoiding touching your face, you avoid giving the cold back to yourself. Teach your children to use tissues, and to dispose them off safely.

Drink up
Fluids speed healing. Even if you feel sickened with your cold, attempt to hydrate yourself, because a lack of fluids in your system may contribute to prolonging your symptoms. Remind children to drink their quota of 8 glasses of water every day – even during the rains.

Sleep tight
Our immune system needs sleep. Moreover, if you are stressed, you are more susceptible to a cold. Once the cold virus has made itself at home inside your body, it will take longer to clear up if you don’t get enough rest. Help your children plan out their exam preparation well in advance to avoid lack of sleep in the last few days before the exams.

Take it easy
Don’t persist with your daily routine of housework and office-work, in the hope that the activity will help get rid of the cold faster. Too much of activity interferes with immunity. Besides, if you insist on going out to public places, you’re only aiding the spread of your cold. Take it easy. Don’t overdo the rest by staying in bed all day – your body will only be sore from so much inactivity - but do take the day off from work. If your child has a cold, let her rest at home.

Know your cold
If your cold is overstaying, it may not be a cold! If you aren’t getting better, it could be because you’re treating the wrong illness. If you have facial pain, a persistent headache, fever, a green or yellow nasal discharge as opposed to clear, you must visit your doctor to rule out sinusitis. If your child develops a fever 5-7 days after cold symptoms begin, check with the doctor to rule out sinusitis or another infection like bronchitis, pneumonia or an ear infection. In older kids and teens, the most frequent symptoms of sinusitis are daytime dry cough that doesn’t improve after the first 7 days of cold symptoms, fever, worsening congestion, dental pain, or tenderness in the face. Other symptoms may include upset stomach, nausea, headache and pain behind the eyes.

Resist excess drying medication
Decongestants may make work easier, but don’t overuse them. They remove moisture, rob the body of its ability to drain, and cause medicine tolerance to build up. Too many oral decongestants may also cause jitters, tremors, elevated blood pressure, and constipation – the last things you need on top of a cold. It’s a good idea to diligently stick to the time-tested methods of dealing with a cold – steam inhalation and salt water gargling.

 


    
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