The Common Cold: Causes and Concerns

We are well into fall and Cleveland schools and workplaces alike have no doubt been ravaged by cold season already. The reality is that the common cold is the leading reason for sick days in the United States (not the temptation of a cough, cough three day weekend). In fact the Center for Disease Control estimates that school children miss 22 million days annually because of this pesky viral infection, sometimes sending concerned parents running the local Cleveland urgent care center or hospital.

The common cold is really nothing more than a name associated with a group of common symptoms, so it is like a syndrome only we most often know the cause. The symptoms that define the common cold are an itchy or sore throat in conjunction with sneezing, congestion of the nasal cavity, a runny nose, and watery eyes. It is important to note in this day and age after the break out of the H1N1 virus that the presence of muscle ache and a high temperature are not included in the cold symptoms. These are flu symptoms.

The viral agents responsible are most often the rhinovirus, coronaviruses, and the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). These can account for around 50 percent of common cold cases. The rest of the cases can be caused by one of nearly 200 other viruses. These viruses most often pass onto the victim by touch, so be diligent and wash your hands often lest these annoying little creations may begin to propagate in the throat and nose and bring about your temporary misery. Additional factors that can help the viruses are allergies, general fatigue, and emotional distress.

These symptoms are not deadly, but the lingering effect of these are surprisingly debilitating. Luckily, a common cold typically lasts between 7 and 10 days. Unfortunately for children, they will have average of five to seven colds a year. Adults only suffer two to three times a year on average according to WebMD.

The Cold Season in Cleveland and just about every other location in the United States lasts from late August to April. It is not just a coincidence that this coincides with the school year and the turning of the weather in most states. The school year piles children inside and in close quarters with hundreds of other children. The virus often spreads through classrooms like a wild fire. The same goes for the retreat indoors. People are in closer proximity to each other, so it is easier to pick up the virus since there are more opportunities for random touching of the same objects.

The most common treatment for the common cold is not antibacterial medication, as many parents go to Cleveland urgent care facilities and hospitals in hopes of getting some sort of prescription treatment know. The cold is a virus not a bacterium so the best medicine is rest and fluids. Common remedies include gargling salt water and using petroleum jelly for raw noses, and these are all fine, just as pain medication is for headaches also associated with the cold.

A word of warning to those with children under the age of 12: be wary of using aspirin. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that some studies have linked the use of aspirin with children under the age of 12 with the development of Reye’s syndrome, a rare syndrome that effects the bodies internal organ and is potentially fatal. Instead, the academy suggests using acetaminophen for all children through there teenage years.

There is a time to see a doctor or visit a Clevland urgent care facility though. If the symptoms persist beyond 10 days then it would not be unadvisable to seek the opinion of a medical professional. While a common cold is not a bacterial infection, the common cold can open the door for bacterial infections in the lungs, sinuses and ears. Of course, in the event that you feel it necessary (even if it is before the 10 day marker) feel free to schedule an appointment at an urgent care facility or hospital for a checkup or second opinion.

  • Our Services
  • Adult Illnesses
  • Pediatric Illnesses
  • Minor Cuts & Burns
  • Sprains & Strains
  • School & Sport Physicals
  • Traditional Family Practice
  • Occupational Medicine
  • Work Physicals
  • Colds/Flu
  • Foreign bodies
  • Tetanus & Flu Shots
  • TB Testing
  • Onsite Lab
  • Digital X-Ray
  • Drug Testing
  • Simple Fractures
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • Dehydration
  • Rashes & Bumps
  • Bacterial Infections
  • Bladder Infections
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Fever
  • Sore Throat (Strep)
  • Sport Injuries
  • Animal Bites