The Common Cold Essay
The common cold has been plaguing humankind since the beginning of human existence. Even in these advanced times, there is no vaccine or cure. There are many symptoms that accompany the common cold. Some of these infamous symptoms are a runny nose, caused by inflammation of the nasal tissues, resulting in over production of mucus to trap the virus, and coughing. there are two different kinds or types of coughs that are common with colds. The first, is the less common dry hacking cough, these kinds are more likely to keep you up at night and just plainly annoy you than do any thing else. The other more common type of cough is the kind whose purpose is to expel mucus and or phlegm. These help to combat the cold by helping to expel the mucus that has the virus trapped in it. Other symptoms include a slight tingle or tickle in the back of the throat that usually turns into a sore throat and sneezing. Both of these symptoms are was for your body to help expel phlegm or mucus from the body. Another symptom is swelling of the face and or neck usually accompanied by pain around
This pain and swelling is caused by the introduction of the virus into your upper respiratory tract, therefore causing mucus building up in your nasal passages and then in your sinuses causing them both to become impacted. Many people complain of hoarseness, aches and pains in their joints, fever of about 101 degrees, and general aches and pains all over their bodies (Anthanasoid). There are at least two hundred different kinds of viruses that are known to cause what is known as the common cold, and an unknown number of undiscovered causes (Nourse 56). The virus who is usually responsible for a cold is called a rhinovirus, and it accounts for around thirty to fifty percent of all colds that afflict the adult part of the human population. The virus that is secondly responsible for most common colds, is called a coronavirus, and it is only different form a rhinovirus by a margin of few select proteins in it’s molecular structure.
The rhinovirus is so small that it can only be measured in milimicrons, one milimicron is about 1/25,000,000 of an inch, that means that about five hundred rhioviruses can fit on the point of a pin. That fact makes the rhinovirus and the coronavirus categorized in the medium territory. The virus cannot reproduce by itself. In fact scientists cannot even decide whether to classify it as an animal or a plant, because it is so primitive. To reproduce, the virus must first latch onto a nearby cell and inject it’s genetic makeup into the cell. It then tells the cell to make as many viruses as it can, using the chemicals inside of the cell. The cell keep producing viruses until the outer cell wall explodes releasing all of the new viruses into the bloodstream. The best part about many of the viruses that cause colds is that they are self limiting.
That means that after the virus reproduces so much it just stops and dies. In the case of common colds, the virus runs it’s course in about ten to fourteen days. Because it kills itself, the infected person’s immune system doesn’t realy have to do anything except maybe keep it in their upper respiratory track. There have been documented cases when a cold actually inadvertently killed someone. In these rare cases, the viral infection lead to a bacterial infection in the middle ear and therefore lead to death. This is why if your ears hurt, you should see a doctor immediately (Knight 10-15, 23-25). There are many misconceptions about the spread of the common cold. For one thing, a person who doesn’t cover their mouth when coughing and or sneezing, is not necessarily spreading their cold says John Poppy (104). Another article in the “Mayo Clinic Health Letter” stated that coughing and sneezing is one of the things that spreads the cold virus the most. The reasoning behind that is, the cough or sneeze spreads the viral particles all around. Then people touch the spot that has one of these particles on it with their hands and rub their hands on their nose and mouth.
This action spreads the cold even further. This same article said that kissing doesn’t necessarily spread the cold virus (1-2). Laurie Tarkan says that the main way that the cold virus is spread is through touching of the nose and mouth, like the Mayo Clinic Letter. She also stated that the reason that colds seam to flourish in the winter is that people tend to group together in schools and in homes, therefor spreading the virus throughout the population. Also more people tend to fly durring the winter. In order to keep the cabin pressurized, the airplane circulates the air, and that means that if one person has a cold and coughs then the whole plane will have a great chance to become infected. Also at higher altitudes, the air seriously dries out the nasal membrane in the nose and therefore make a person more susceptible to the virus. Because of this, experts like Laurie Tarkan suggest to drink allot of water while flying in an airplane, about eight ounces for every hour that you are on the airplane (202, The Common Cold 2). There is only one possible way to stay totally healthy during the winter.
That is to be locked in a room underground and not see anyone until the cold season is over. Fortunately there are a few guidelines that you can follow to help your chances of staying well this winter. One is to wash your hands often, not compulsively but often, and also try to stay away from people who have realy bad colds. If someone in your house or workplace gets or has a cold, then it is suggested that you should disinfect with “Lysol” or hydrogen peroxide often, again not compulsively but often. Many people believe that garlic can help to avoid a cold, but studies on this subject have been shown to be inconclusive, in most recent test anyhow (The Common Cold 2). Even if you follow all of the guidelines, you still might catch an occasional cold, so, if you have a cold you there are a lot of things you can do to lessen the power of the symptoms.
A cold usually last from ten to fourteen days. Dr.. Robert Anthanasoid say that consuming low quantities of Vitamin C, about 250 Mg per day, help to lessen the time or length of the cold. Some people say that taking large doses of Vitamin C, about two grams per day, helps to lessen the duration of a cold (Childhood Infections). While the “Mayo Health Clinic Letter” said that any dosage of Vitamin C doesn’t help of hinder any form of the common cold. Chicken soup, on the other hand, is shown to reduce the severity of the symptoms of the common cold. If you make chicken soup for someone with a cold, Laurie Tarken from “Good Housekeeping” suggests “loading it up with garlic, onion, and heat. It is thought that the reason for chicken soup works so well is because of the chicken. It contains Cystine, an amino acid, that thins mucus. The Cystine and the steam off of the soup are what can clear up a plugged nasal passage and make breathing a lot easier (John Poppy 109).
There is no cure for the common cold because there are over 200 known virus that cause what is know as the “common cold,” and there is no vaccine. There is no vaccine because of the same reason, that there is no cure, the sheer number of the known causes. Because you can’t cure a cold you can only hide or stop the symptoms. There are literally thousands of cold “remedies” or “cures.” Over one billion dollars are spent on cold “remedies” in the U.S. today (The Common Cold 1). There are many different over the counter drugs that claim to stop colds. Some of these are mixes, mainly ones that claim to do everything, most of these “mixes” contain antihistamines. Antihistamines don’t do anything for a cold. The only they do is make you drowsy. The most common antihistamine is chlorpheniramine. Like antihistamines, Decongestants might make you drowsy, but their real use is to unplug your nasal and sinus passages. Decongestants that reverse the swelling go the blood vessels in the nose caused by viral infections according to Laurie Tarkan of “Good Housekeeping” (201).
Spray Decongestants are the best, but can be come addictive with over use. Doctors suggest using a spray once in the morning and once at night. They also suggest that you don’t use them for more than three days, beacaue they can cause your throat to burn. Decongestants in pill form can take from 45 minutes to an hour to start to work. Most combination medications contain a decongestant. Coughing is sometimes caused by irritated airway and or an increase in post nasal drip. There are two different types of cough medications. One is a suppresant and the other is an expectortant. The suppressant stops dry hackin coughs, and the expectorant helps to bring up mucus or phlem. Expectorants thin out the mucus in your throat by using your bodily fluids. So if you are using an expectorant, be sure to consume a lot of liquids. Coedine, is a popular expectorant, but shouldn’t be taken with sedatives or alcohol.
“Vicks 44” is useless for a cough because it contains both an expectorant and a suppressant (Poppy 104). Another name for a suppresant is antitussive. The problem with these is that they might contain narcotics that act directly on the brain, so be sure to consult a doctor before taking any medications. Some over-the-counter products that seem to work as expectorants are Guaifenesin in “Robitussin” or “Triminic”. Cough drops of lozenges work better than pills and usually taste a lot better. Look for something with Mentholate in it to soothe sore throat pain and coughs (Tarkan 202) Colds sometimes are accompanied by aches and pains. Headaches are usually caused by the compacting of the nasal passages and sinuses. They only close off when a virus enters the upper respiratory tract. This pain can usually be stopped by taking ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin. It is important to be careful when giving aspirin to children, because it has been linked to Ray’s syndrome.
Ray’s syndrome is a potentially deadly disease that sometimes occurs in children that are infected with the flu, pneumonia, or chicken pox (The Common Cold 1-3). Because there are so many kinds of combinations many people tend to become confused when bombarded with all of the adds for cold medicines. Above all “Sudafed” and “Tylenol Flu” are rated the highest for the relief of the symptoms of the common cold according to Laurie Tarkan of Good Housekeeping (212). She strongly suggests that before taking any medication, over the counter or not, you should seek a doctor’s help in choosing a drug or a combination of drugs.
When shopping for a cold remedy remember that there are less expensive generic brands that contain the same drugs and work just as well. If any symptoms change or become worse than you think that they should be, within reason, it is suggested that you seek a doctor’ help. This is suggested because many serious illnesses start out with cold-like symptoms that become much worse. They might not be able to cure the common cold ever, but there are now drugs in the works that can help to ease the symptoms and cause little or no side effects. Overall, colds are not killers, most of the time, just rather annoying to have. There are drugs that can put a stop to all of the annoying symptoms, but the main idea for “curing” a cold is to use a medical practice aptly dubbed the “Tincture of Time.” To speed recovery, sleep as much as possible, and eat very little.