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ASTHMA & RESPIRATORY SYSTEM
Respiratory System

Causes

Although more than 200 viruses can cause colds, the rhinovirus is the most common, known culprit. The cause of up to 50 percent of colds is unknown.

A cold virus enters your body through your mouth or nose, but it's likely you also had a "hand" in your own illness. Although colds can be spread through sneezing and coughing, they're often spread by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by using shared objects such as utensils, towels or telephones. Touch your eyes or nose after such contact or exposure, and you're likely to acquire a cold.

Risk factors

Children are especially susceptible to colds because they haven't yet developed resistance to most of the viruses that cause colds. But an immature immune system isn't the only thing that makes kids vulnerable. They also tend to spend lots of time with other children and aren't always careful about washing their hands, which makes it easy for colds to spread.

Both children and adults are most susceptible to colds in fall and winter, when children are in school and most people are spending a lot of time indoors.

As you age, you develop immunity to many of the viruses that cause colds. You'll have colds less frequently than you did as a child, but you're at increased risk when you are:

  • Spending most of your time indoors and in close contact with other people during fall and winter

  • Experiencing psychological stress

  • Having an allergic reaction that affects your nasal passages

Other common beliefs about how you catch cold — going outdoors with wet hair or getting chilled, for example — have never been shown in clinical studies to increase your risk.

When to seek medical advice

Colds generally get better after less than a week, although they may not disappear as quickly as you'd like. Seek medical attention if you have a fever greater than 39 C or feel your symptoms are getting worse. A high fever accompanied by achiness and fatigue might be the flu (influenza) rather than just a cold. Prescription antiviral medications for influenza are available and may be somewhat helpful, but you need to start taking them within 48 hours of your first symptoms.

If you have fever, sweating, chills and a cough that produces colored phlegm, you might have pneumonia. It's best to see a doctor right away.

Also see your doctor if your symptoms don't improve after seven to 10 days or if you have a chronic respiratory condition made worse by cold symptoms.

In general, children are sicker with colds than adults are, and often suffer from complications such as ear infections. Call your physician immediately if your child has any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Fever, chills or sweating

  • Fever that lasts more than 72 hours

  • Vomiting or abdominal pain

  • Unusual sleepiness

  • Severe headache

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Persistent crying

  • Ear pain 

Cold > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

 

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Disclaimer

This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 


 



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