Back behind the wheel: How to prevent the common cold
October 1, 2006
As the weather changes from summer to fall, our bodies are forced to adjust to the cooler temperatures. Unfortunately, this signals the start of cold season. The common cold can creep up on us at any ...
As the weather changes from summer to fall, our bodies are forced to adjust to the cooler temperatures. Unfortunately, this signals the start of cold season. The common cold can creep up on us at any time and in any season however, it is more prevalent during this time of the year. It is usually a harmless infection in the upper respiratory tract that is more of an annoyance than anything else.
Although there are more than 200 different viruses that cause the common cold, the rhinovirus is by far the most common among humans. This virus is highly infectious and contagious. In most cases, the virus enters the body through the mouth or nose usually by means of droplets in the air when an infected individual coughs or sneezes.
Another method of transmission is through hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by using shared objects, such as utensils, towels, toys or telephones.
Children are especially susceptible to colds due to their immature immune system. They have yet to develop resistance to most viruses that cause colds. To add to this, they tend to spend a lot of time with other children who are not always diligent about washing their hands or covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze.
As you age, you develop immunity to many viruses that cause common colds. Thus, you will have colds less frequently than you did as a child. Both adults and children are more prone to colds during the fall and winter months when children go back to school and we spend more time indoors.
Cold symptoms usually occur one to three days after exposure to the virus and could include the following; runny/stuffy nose, itchy/ sore throat, cough, congestion, body aches/headaches, sneezing, watery eyes, low fever, or mild fatigue. As well, nasal discharge becomes thicker and has a yellowish to greenish colour. Note that the common cold does not usually produce high fevers, extreme fatigue, vomiting, severe headaches, ear pain, and persistent coughing. Colds usually run their course in a week or so, however if symptoms do not begin to clear up within that time frame you should consult your doctor to ensure you do not have a bacterial infection in your lungs, sinuses or ears.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the common cold at this time. Antibiotics are not effective in treating a cold. Also, over-the-counter medication will not speed up your recovery however, they will help to relieve some symptoms such as a runny nose and coughing.
Finally, here are a few preventative strategies that are simple and easy to do. The easiest and most effective thing you can do to prevent yourself from catching a cold is to wash your hands thoroughly and often, especially before eating. Make sure to wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 30 seconds. If you do not have access to water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good alternative. Another thing to keep in mind is to always sneeze and cough into tissues. Always discard used tissues right away and wash your hands carefully. You may also want to consider some dietary supplements such as Vitamin C, Zinc or Echinacea. Make sure to check with your physician before taking any supplements, especially if you are currently taking other prescription medications.
Until next month, drive safely!
– Dr. Christopher Singh, B. Kin., D.C., runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 888-252-7327, or email TCC@transcanadachiropractic.com