With the onset of winter comes the common cold for this time of year, the symptoms of which have probably been experienced by everyone more than once. It begins with a runny nose, sore throat and elevated body temperature. How do you deal with that?
The causative agent of cold symptoms are the so-called rhinoviruses, which can be distinguished by about 100 serological types. Each case of a cold immunizes against a specific type of virus. But you can still get a different type of rhinovirus. Adults usually catch a cold 1 to 4 times a year. Children get sick more often.
Causes of colds
Infection with cold viruses occurs by airborne droplets at the time of sneezing or coughing. Some believe that a cold occurs after hypothermia, for example, when the feet are wet or drafted, but the low temperature itself does not cause the disease.
A runny nose, that is, acute rhinitis and pharyngitis, most often affects people:
- Not coping with stress, with allergic changes in the nasopharynx
- In the middle phase of the menstrual cycle.
The first symptoms of a cold
The disease usually begins slowly with a feeling of nasal congestion and frequent sneezing. On the same or the next day, watery nasal discharge and sore throat join, and body temperature may be slightly elevated. On the 2-3rd day of the disease, the runny nose becomes so dense and purulent that it can provoke difficulty breathing through the nose and tearing. The infection usually lasts 5-14 days, but after 3-5 days the patient begins to feel a gradual improvement in well-being.
Sometimes, however, the common cold leads to complications – as a result of the spread of infection to the organs adjacent to the nose and throat, such as:
- Middle ear
The common cold is most contagious immediately after the onset of symptoms, so the main way to prevent this disease is to avoid large concentrations of people in the fall and winter, such as on the bus, in the office, or in other public places.
Colds and pregnancy
Pregnancy for many women is one of the most beautiful periods of life. However, a developing cold or other infection can disrupt this harmony. It should be remembered that any infection during pregnancy poses a threat to the developing fetus. Also, drugs taken during pregnancy can adversely affect the fetus. The effects of pathogens and drugs are different, and largely depend on the period of pregnancy in which they acted. Therefore, pregnant women, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy, should pay special attention to their places of residence and avoid large crowds of people, as well as people with a cold or cough. However, if a cold in a pregnant woman has already begun, then the main thing is that she stays at home for several days. Taking cold medication by a pregnant woman should be kept to a minimum.
Treatment of colds
With a cold, in most cases, the body copes with itself. Antiviral drugs for colds do not exist, and antibiotics in this case are ineffective. Symptomatic drugs are used to alleviate ailments, many of which are available in pharmacies without a prescription. With fever, various drugs are most often used, such as:
1. Acetylsalicylic acid – known for more than a hundred years. It has an antipyretic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect. Adults are given 1-2 tablets 4 times a day. It is an effective drug, but it can cause side effects. Therefore, it is contraindicated in people with peptic ulcer disease (because it can aggravate it), bleeding disorders (because it reduces its coagulability), bronchial asthma (because it can cause attacks of shortness of breath), renal failure. Acetylsalicylic acid should not be given to children under 12 years of age because of the possibility of severe liver damage.
2. Paracetamol is a safe antipyretic and analgesic drug, as evidenced by the fact that it can be taken by pregnant women from the 4th month of pregnancy and during lactation and prescribed to newborns and infants. Unlike acetylsalicylic acid, it does not irritate the gastric mucosa, so it is recommended for patients with peptic ulcer disease. It can also be given to patients with aspirin asthma or allergy to acetylsalicylic acid. Without medical supervision, paracetamol should not be used for more than 3 days in children and 10 days in adults. Paracetamol should not be prescribed to people with damaged livers and alcoholics, as they may develop poisoning with this drug.
3. Alternative herbal antipyretics – willow bark, linden blossom and raspberry fruits. Pharmacies also have complex herbal antipyretic preparations containing willow bark and linden blossom. Raspberries as an antipyretic and diaphoretic preparation can be used in the form of a syrup from fresh fruits or an infusion of dried fruits.
In case of symptoms of a cold or flu, it is worth turning to broad-spectrum drugs. Preparations with salicylamide, enriched with vitamin C and rutoside, not only have an antipyretic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect, but also support the immune system in the fight against pathogens and strengthen blood vessels.
Rutin and vitamin C reduce the permeability of capillaries and increase their mechanical stability.
With a cold, they are often used:
- Drops in the nose containing ingredients that relieve the vessels of the swollen mucous membrane of the nose, making the nose clean. However, it should be borne in mind that the use of nasal drops for more than 6-7 days can cause atrophy of the nasal mucosa.
- Oral medications, which, when used at the onset of the common cold, clearly reduce its symptoms. They contain in their composition an anti-edematous agent from the vessels of the mucous membrane and an antiallergic drug. However, the use of these drugs requires a doctor’s consultation, as there are some contraindications, for example, severe hypertension, advanced coronary heart disease, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, prostatic hyperplasia.
- A lotion containing essential oils (e.g. pine, thyme, eucalyptus) for rubbing into the chest skin. These oils are very volatile, so they are inhaled through the nose and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the mucous membrane of the nose.
Medications for sore throat
- Rinses from herbal mixtures.
- Gargling or grass gargling products
- Disinfectant lozenges.
- Anti-inflammatory tablets. Cough syrup is good for a dry cough, and if the cough is wet with expectoration of sputum, expectorant syrup is useful.
- Spray for the throat – due to the content of benzidamine, that is, a substance with anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, acts quickly and locally. It also reduces puffiness and has a disinfectant effect. Benzidamine penetrates the skin and surface of the mucous membranes, acts directly on tissue inflammation.
Patients with colds can also be offered complex anti-cold drugs, which are available in a wide range in every pharmacy. Most often they contain in their composition:
- Antitussive and decongestants of the mucous membrane in different proportions.
These drugs relieve runny nose, cough, fever, headache. You can not take different anti-cold drugs at the same time, because then the doses of their components increase, which can be harmful to health. Contraindications to the use of these drugs are: pregnancy and lactation, hyperthyroidism, glaucoma, prostatic hyperplasia.
Treatment of colds in pregnant women
As already mentioned, pharmacotherapy of pregnant women should be minimized. In order to relieve a runny nose, you can recommend a pregnant woman to lubricate the skin around the holes of the nose with marjoram ointment (the same one that is recommended for babies), and antipyretic – tea with raspberry juice or infusion of dried raspberry fruits.
Pregnant women from the fourth month of pregnancy can also take paracetamol as an antipyretic drug. A sore throat can be relieved by rinsing with sage. You can also take lime and vitamin C. However, if the symptoms of infection in a pregnant woman worsen, she should consult a doctor who will decide on further treatment. During pregnancy, every woman should be guided by the principle: “the fewer drugs, the better.” And it is best not to take them at all, unless there are strict medical indications. It is worth reminding patients that the disease subsides faster if they stay at home for several days and just rest. It is also useful to humidify the air in the room and drink an increased amount of fluid, which relaxes the secretion in the respiratory tract, facilitating its expectoration. If it happens that, despite the treatment used, the symptoms intensify or new ones appear, it is necessary to consult a doctor.