Common cold is a highly communicable disease characterised by inflammation of mucous membrane of nose, pharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi etc. It is a very common disease and almost everybody suffers from this disease once or twice in a year especially in winter season. Children are more susceptible to this disease.
Adults usually recover promptly and completely but viral pneumonia may be fatal to children. If common cold is neglected, it may lead to serious complications of upper respiratory tract. Although during common cold a person may not lie down in the bed but it greatly reduces the efficiency of work. On an average each cold lasts for 1-2 weeks.
Common cold is caused by a filterable virus. Any person, if he comes in contact with another person having cold may also get this disease. Other causes of common cold may include sudden changes in temperature, improper food, obstructions of the nose, fatigue, exposure to cold and dampness etc.
Mode of Transmission:
It is transmitted by direct contact, by droplet infection or through fomites like handkerchief, towel, book, notebook, pen, pencil etc.
Incubation period is from few hours to 2-3 days. Sometimes it lasts for seven days. The immunity is short lived.
Signs and Symptoms:
During common cold the mucous membrane of the nose becomes swollen and the secretions copious. There is sneezing, running of nose, watery discharge from eyes followed by body ache and head ache. Fever may or may not be present.
There is no specific treatment for common cold. Rest is advisable to give relief from body ache and headache. Analgesics may be helpful in this respect. Common cold generally lasts for a regular course of 1 -2 weeks and cures itself, although early treatment shortens the attack. If anybody has frequent colds, even though they are not severe, a physician should be consulted because frequent colds may prove harmful to the body.
For the prevention of common cold the person suffering from this disease should observe the following precautions:
(i) Preferably he should isolate himself for the first 2-3 days of cold.
(ii) He should keep away from crowded places because coughing and sneezing spread this disease.
(iii) While talking, coughing or sneezing keep a distance from healthy persons and shield the mouth and nose with a handkerchief so that the droplets of infection may not reach to the healthy persons.
(iv) Avoid talking directly into the face of other persons.