Cold Season Survival Guide
Symptoms, Treatment, and Possible Complications
The common cold, a perennial nemesis of humankind, is an ailment we’re all too familiar with. It creeps into our lives uninvited, making us sneeze, cough, and feel under the weather. While it’s rarely a serious threat, knowing how to deal with a cold is essential to minimize discomfort and prevent potential complications.
RapidCare Emergency Room brings you this essential Cold Season Survival Guide to help avoid a dangerous complication.
What Is the Common Cold and What Causes It?
The common cold, also known simply as a cold, is a viral infection caused by more than 200 viruses, primarily by the rhinovirus, which causes nearly 34% of all respiratory illnesses.
The cold is highly contagious and easily spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches surfaces with which others come into contact.
Infection happens when the virus enters the body through the mouth, nose, or eyes and then begins to multiply, triggering our immune systems and making us feel unwell.
Symptoms of the Common Cold
If you’ve ever had a cold, you’re familiar with its signature symptoms, which typically include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat. An itchy or scratchy throat is common
- Cough, which may be persistent, dry, or with phlegm
- A dull, throbbing headache often accompanies a cold
- Mild fever: Some people may experience a low-grade fever
- Mild loss of taste and smell
These symptoms usually last for about a week, but it can take longer for your body to recover fully.
While the common cold is usually a mild, self-limiting illness, it can lead to more severe complications in certain individuals.
These complications may include
- Sinusitis (sinus infection)
- Ear infection
- Bronchitis (inflammation of the bronchial tubes)
It’s crucial to pay attention to your symptoms and seek emergency medical advice if they worsen or persist.
Treatment for the Common Cold
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for the common cold, but there are various ways to alleviate symptoms and speed up recovery:
- Rest: Give your body the time it needs to heal.
- Hydration: Remember to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Over-the-counter medications: Non-prescription cold remedies can help with symptom relief, but follow the dosing instructions carefully and seek immediate medical help if you experience adverse reactions.
Ways to Prevent Infection
Preventing the common cold is often easier than treating it. Here are some tips to help reduce your risk of catching a cold:
- Hand hygiene: Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid close contact: Steer clear of individuals with a cold.
- Use tissues: Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or elbow when sneezing or coughing.
- Disinfect surfaces: Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces regularly.
Warning Signs: When to Go to the Emergency Room
In most cases, a common cold won’t need medical intervention. However, there are instances where you should seek emergency medical attention, such as:
- High fever: If your fever goes above 102°F (38.9°C), especially in children, it’s time to visit the emergency room.
- Severe cough: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath can indicate a more serious respiratory issue.
- Dehydration: If you have trouble swallowing, can’t keep down fluids, or notice extreme thirst, medical help is crucial.
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest: These symptoms can be signs of a more severe respiratory condition.
Don’t hesitate to seek emergency care in case of severe symptoms or any doubt about your condition.
Rapid Care ER, Emergency Care With Compassion
While the common cold is usually nothing more than a nuisance, remember that if your symptoms worsen or you feel your health is in danger, Rapid Care ER is here to assist you 24/7 at all our locations.
Your health and well-being are always our top priority. During this cold season, please stay safe and healthy and visit us when help is needed.