WHAT IS A COLD?
Well, the common cold is a contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract, well it is normal for adults to catch a cold from time to time, but kids can get up to 8 colds per year or more. The common cold is one of the main reasons kids visit the doctor and miss school.
What Causes a Cold?
Majority of the common colds are caused by rhinoviruses carried in invisible droplets in the air or on things we touch. These viruses can get into our nose and throat, setting off an immune system reaction that can cause a sore throat, headache, and trouble breathing through the nose.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Cold?
The first symptoms of a cold are often a tickle in the throat, a runny or stuffy nose, and sneezing. Kids with colds also might feel very tired and have a sore throat, cough, headache, mild fever, muscle aches, and loss of appetite. Mucus from the nose may become thick yellow or green.
Are Colds Contagious?
Colds are the most common infectious disease. They're very contagious, especially in the first 2 to 4 days after symptoms begin. They can even spread for a couple of weeks after someone starts feeling sick.
Furthermore, colds can spread through person-to-person contact or by breathing in virus particles, which can travel up to 12 feet through the air when someone with a cold coughs or sneezes. Touching the mouth or nose after touching a contaminated surface can also spread a cold.
How Long Do Colds Last?
Well, Usually Cold symptoms will show up 2 or 3 days after exposure to the infection. Most colds clear up within 1 week, but some complications can make it last a bit longer.
How Are Colds Diagnosed?
As a doctor, we won't be able to identify the specific virus causing cold symptoms but can examine your child's throat and ears and take a throat culture to make sure the symptoms aren't from another condition that may need treatment. If symptoms get worse instead of better after 3 days or so, the problem could be strep throat, sinusitis or pneumonia.
If symptoms last for more than a week, appear at the same time every year, or happen when your child is around pollen, dust, or animals, an allergy could be to blame. Kids who have trouble breathing or wheeze when they catch a cold could have asthma.
How Are Colds Treated?
Usually, colds will clear up on their own without specific medical treatment. Medicine is used not to cure a cold but to ease symptoms like muscle aches, headache, and fever.
Can Colds Be Prevented?
There is no straightforward answer to this because there are so many viruses that cause colds, there isn't a vaccine to protect against all of them. To help avoid catching one, kids should:
- Take a flu shot
- steer clear of anyone who has a cold
- avoid secondhand smoke
- wash their hands well and often, especially after blowing their noses
- sneeze or cough into a tissue or their elbow, not into their hands
- not share towels, drinking glasses, or eating utensils with someone who has a cold
- not pick up other people's used tissues
Dr Sum Wai Thean (Raymond)
MBBS (Melaka Manipal Medical College),
MRCPCH (UK), AM (MAL)
Member of Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, United Kingdom
Member of Academy Medicine of Malaysia