All the Questions You’ve Ever Wanted to Ask About the Common Cold - Aussie Pharmacy

One of the very few silver linings of the pandemic has been that the incidence of other illnesses has plummeted. Cases of the flu fell 98% as everybody washed their hands and stayed socially distant from one another. You’ve probably noticed this in your own life. Other than COVID, did you notice that your annual sickness didn’t really show up? As the world begins to open up again, we might find that the common cold comes back with a vengeance because our bodies’ immune systems are lowered. 

So, although it gives me absolutely no pleasure to do so, let me re-introduce you to the cold. Here is a crash course into everything you need to know.

What is it?

The cold is a viral infection of your throat and nose caused by the rhinovirus, parainfluenza. The flu on the other hand can only be caught by contracting influenza viruses. While they are similar, the flu is considerably worse than the common cold, and should really only be diagnosed by a health professional. Many of my customers feel free to call a cold a flu if it just happens to be pretty full on. Sadly, it isn’t quite that simple.

Here is how it works.

The virus works its way to the nose and begins to multiply, preparing to invade your body and set up. Your body starts to recognise that something foreign has shown up, and sends distress signals called cytokines to the brain. Your body rallies by widening the blood vessels around the infected area which allow your white blood cells to show up and fight the virus. Think of this like traffic control giving the police every green light on their way to a crime. This is great news, except it causes inflammation – and that is where things get painful. The cytokines start making the area hotter and wetter which the virus doesn’t want. After all, we often get sick in the cold dry winter and stay well in the warm and humid summers. Your runny nose is actually your body clearing the used white blood cells that have fought the good fight.

Eventually, your body will win. An average cold should last for anywhere between seven to ten days, and most people should pick up an infection two or three times a year. If your numbers are outside of this, you should see your doctor as there might be different underlying causes.

Symptoms of a cold

Most of the symptoms of a cold which you know and love are actually your body’s defences against the virus. These symptoms actually only show up 24-72 hours after you have initially been exposed to the virus. You might not have all of these at once, but the symptoms include:

  • Sore throat
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Feeling flat or lacking energy
  • Runny nose
  • Blocked nose
  • Cough
  • Aches
  • Headaches
  • Fever

A good rule of thumb is that you should monitor the phlegm as the cold progresses. At its worst, it might be a thick dark yellow, before thinning out as your body overcomes the infection.

Cures

  1. Stay hydrated. The virus thrives in the cold and dry. You need to be supporting your body to make the infected area as warm and moist as possible and staying hydrated is essential.
  2. Rest. Give your body the best chance to fight off the virus by keeping all of your blood cells fighting the infection. If you suddenly run a marathon, this is like pulling all of your troops off the front line and letting the enemy gain more ground.
  3. Deal with the pain. Codral original is a great option for relieving these nasty symptoms. The paracetamol in Codral Original gives your body temporary relief by blocking the pain receptors in your brain. There is also an active ingredient in Codral Original called Pseudoephedrine which reduces the congestion in your upper respiratory tract. We are talking a clear nose, sinus and much easier breathing. We never run out of stock, and I would recommend picking up some Codral original now. Otherwise it will be 3am, you will be thick with congestion, and you will be cursing your lack of foresight.
  4. Add moisture to the air. This might be best done with a humidifier running overnight. This can help to loosen the congestion in your nose. Otherwise, you can pour boiling water into a bowl, lean over and breathe deeply. For best effect, place a tea towel over your head creating a miniature steam room.

How to avoid colds

Prevention is better than a cure. Many of these practices will now be second nature in an endemic world.

  1. Wash your hands regularly. This needs to last at least 20 seconds, involving soap or a desanitasier. Doing this several times a day will dramatically decrease your risk of picking up an infection
  2. Avoid touching those areas of your face which allow the virus in. If you haven’t washed your hands recently, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  3. Steer clear of people who are sick. Most people will demonstrate some etiquette by staying home from work or school, but you can never be sure about the passer-by on the bus or cafe. If someone seems sick, assume they are. Keep a polite distance without making them feel like a leper.

FAQ

Can the cold develop into the flu?

No. A cold can be particularly vicious, but that doesn’t mean it magically becomes the flu. To contract the flu, you must be infected with a different virus.

Can I get a cold by being cold?

No. You might render yourself more likely to pick up the virus if your sinus is dry and cold. But getting caught in the rain is by no means a guarantee that you will get sick. This is nothing more than a trope of Victorian fiction.

Brace yourself. The cold has sat largely dormant for the last thirty months, but it will rear its ugly head again in the near future. Now you can be prepared.

Hygienically yours,

Floyd

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