The Common Cold

Woman on Couch Blowing Her Nose

As the name suggests, the common cold is an extremely common illness caused by a number of different viruses. Despite popular beliefs, you can’t catch a cold just from being cold, or getting wet. Knowing how to identify this common illness can help you properly treat yourself and your kids. Center of Advanced Wellness is here to help you become more knowledgeable, while also providing excellent primary care in the San Antonio and Frisco areas.

How Do You Catch a Cold?

Since the cold is caused by a virus, it is passed through infected droplets in the air from someone carrying the virus. Typically, the droplets are spread when the sick person coughs or sneezes. The spread of infected droplets is more likely to spread the virus around in enclosed spaces, such as schools or within your own home.

You can also catch a cold from touching a surface that an infected person touched. This is especially true if you do not wash your hands afterwards, and touch your nose, eyes, or mouth, which is how the virus enters your body. As stated above, you cannot catch a cold simply from being cold.

What Are the Symptoms of the Common Cold?

Most people who get a cold probably spend the first day or so wondering if it’s just a cold. This is because cold symptoms are very similar to other illnesses, especially the flu. Being able to tell the difference can help you properly treat your cold.

The most common cold symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Mild cough
  • Runny, stuffy nose
  • Watery eyes

Other less common cold symptoms include:

  • Low-grade fever
  • Mild headache
  • Mild fatigue
  • Chills

Generally speaking, a cold will last for a few days to a few weeks. If your symptoms get worse, you should consult your primary care doctor to figure out next steps.

How Long Are You Contagious With a Cold?

The range in which you are contagious with a cold starts around two days before symptoms arise until all your symptoms are gone. In most cases, you can assume you’ll be contagious for roughly two weeks.

Symptoms tend to be worse in the first couple days of having the cold, and during these times you are the most contagious. Be sure to practice good hygiene and stay away from others whenever possible.

Cold or the Flu?

While these two illnesses can be easily confused, it’s pretty easy to tell them apart, based on severity. The cold, for most people, is a relatively painless and manageable virus to deal with. Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms include:

  • High fever
  • No nasal congestion
  • Headaches
  • Frequent, severe coughing
  • Frequent, severe exhaustion and fatigue

If you believe you have the flu, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to make sure you’re taking the proper steps to getting better. Unlike with a cold, your provider may prescribe medication for the flu that you can’t buy over-the-counter like you would to treat a cold.

How to Treat a Cold

There is no vaccine or medication currently available to help prevent, cure, or shorten the duration of the common cold. However, there are many ways to help soothe your symptoms and lighten the severity of them. Common cold treatments include:

  • Over-the-counter medication to help treat your cough, sore throat, or stuffy nose
  • Drinking plenty of water or electrolyte-rich drinks like Gatorade
  • Getting adequate rest
  • Pain relief medication for headaches or other pain
  • Warm steam or hot showers

The best way you can prevent the common cold is by practicing good hygiene. Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching surfaces others have touched. Around your house, be sure to disinfect countertops, doorknobs, and other surfaces that get a lot of traffic.

We’ll Help You Beat the Common Cold

Whether you’re helping your child get over their cold, or you have questions to ask your primary care provider about your symptoms, you can trust the experts at Center of Advanced Wellness. For any questions, or to schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to contact our team today.