HEALTH:Understanding Common Cold, Winter Colds and the Natural Remedies

HEALTH:Understanding Common Cold, Winter Colds and the Natural Remedies

While there is no chance of catching a cold if you head outside in bad weather, it’s probably not a bad idea to stay warm and comfortable if you already have one – staying home will also stop you from spreading the virus to others.

Will you get a cold if you catch a chill?

A: No, colds are caused by viruses. You can not get a cold or flu from being cold.

We’ve all been warned against the perils of ‘catching a chill'; in fact many famous people throughout history have reputedly died after ‘catching a chill’ – including Anna Pavlova, Emily Bronte and Sir Francis Bacon.

But is there any truth to this enduring myth that links exposure to cold weather to developing a cold?

Exposure to cold weather will not give you a cold because colds are caused by viruses, says Professor Raina MacIntyre, adding that there are around 200 viruses responsible for the common cold.

Professor Raina MacIntyre is the Professor of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology and head of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales. 

“There is an association between cold weather, or the winter season, and common colds and that’s because for various reasons the transmission of cold viruses is much higher in cold weather,” says MacIntyre.

Recent research from the US found the influenza virus has a hard fatty coating that protects it in colder weather; this coating then melts once the virus enters the respiratory tract.

While MacIntyre agrees some virus factors may play a role, she says it’s more likely colds and influenza outbreaks peak in winter because we tend to huddle together in small, often stuffy, unventilated spaces.

“The reason we know that being in closed settings is a major factor is that explosive outbreaks occur in nursing homes, hospitals and other institutions, where people congregate closely. Outbreaks have also been well described to originate on airplanes and other closed transport vehicles.”

It’s also unlikely that exposure to cold weather will exacerbate the symptoms of your cold.

MacIntyre says if you have a cold and a fever then you’ll feel more miserable if you head outside in bad weather rather than stay in bed and rest.

So while there is no chance of catching a cold if you head outside in bad weather, it’s probably not a bad idea to stay warm and comfortable if you already have one – staying home will also stop you from spreading the virus to others. (ABC Health & Wellbeing)

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The Common Cold: Causes Symptoms and Treatments

Almost everyone can recognize the first sign of the cold, including sneezing, scratch throat, runny noses. But what really causes a cold, and what do some people catch it while their friends or family members do not? And more importantly how can you prevent yourself from catching a cold this season. There are some basic elements of  a could that you should understand that help you keep you and your family protected from catching the cold.

The common cold is a combination of symptoms that affect the upper respiratory tract, that is caused by a many different types of viruses. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause the common cold. The most common is rhino-virus, which  causes 10-40% of colds and corona-viruses that cause 20% of colds and the third is the syntactical virus (RSV) which causes 10% of colds on average.

Despite the common cold being mild, it is the leading cause for doctor visits and  people missing school and work. Accounting for 22 million missed school days. Americans suffer from 1 billion colds annually.

How does the common cold start?

You can catch the common cold from someone who is infected with the virus. This can happen by touching something that contains the cold germs, anything from a computer keyboard, cup to doorknobs, then touching you nose or mouth. You can also catch a cold from someones secretions in the air such as sneezing. This is why it always to important to wash your hands.

The cold virus starts by attaching to the lining of the noes and throat, then the immune system sends white blood cells to fight these germs.. The attack will fell if your body has encountered this strain of the cold virus before, if not the body will will send more immune systems reinforcements and your nose and throat will get inflamed and produce a significant amount of mucus.  With all your entire immune system fighting off this cold your body will then feel tired with lack of energy.

Although getting chilly or wet will not cause common colds their are associated factors that will make you more susceptible to catching the cold virus. If you are very fatigued or have emotional stress, even allergies with nose and throat symptoms can led to a cold. Your immune system is key to fending off the constant assault of potential cold virus strains.

The common cold symptoms

You’ll have itchy and sore throats, watery eyes, mucus drainage as well as coughing. More severe symptoms such as high fever or  muscle aches can indicate that you have the flu rather than a cold

Children with Colds

Children will have about 5-7 colds on average per year. This is primarily due to children spending time in school or day care centers with close contact with children who, tend to spread germs more frequently and easily, as there immune systems are strong enough to fight off colds. Adults will experience about 2 to three colds a year, though these can vary widely. Women between the age of 20-30 years old will have more primarily due to closer contact with children. People over the age of 60 have less than one cold a year.

Be prepared

Being prepared during cold season can go a long way in helping to prevent a cold. Most cold occur during the fall and winter. This begins in late August and early September, when cold rate steadily increase for several weeks and remains high until March or April, this is due to cold viruses surviving in cold weather with low humidity.

Common colds are viral and not bacterial so, antibiotics only will work on bacterial infections and not viruses. Many colds last between 7-10 days if your symptoms linger for longer you may need to call your doctor, as common colds can lead to bacterial infections which may worsen.

A Cold vs the Flu

Although  both the cold and flu are respiratory illnesses they are caused by different virus strains. The cold and the flu also have similar symptoms, so it can be difficult to tell the differences from each other based on symptoms. In most cases the flu would be worst than the common cold, the flu would include symptoms such as fever, body aches , intense dry cough,  and tiredness.  Could will often be milder and  have the person would have runny or stuffy nose. Generally colds do not cause any greater health issues such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or the need to be hospitalized.

Here are some herbal remedies for your body and mind.

  • Rose hip tea is full of vitamin C and can help prevent colds.
  • Lemons, oranges, and apple cider are all considered to be cold remedies.
  • For chills, take fresh ginger root.
  • Historically, the layers of the onion were believed to draw contagious diseases from the patient; onions were often hung in sickrooms. Today, we know that onions have antibacterial qualities.
  • Cut up fresh garlic cloves and add them to chicken soup or other foods, or swallow small chunks of raw garlic like pills.
  • Eat loads of hot and spicy foods like chili to clear the sinuses.
  • Like garlic and onion, horseradish generates lots of heat to help offset colds. According to one farmer we know, a daily horseradish sandwich is the best cold remedy out there!
  • Prunes are rich in fiber, vitamins A and B, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. And they’ve been cured themselves!
  • To treat sore lips, go to bed with honey on them.

For a chest cold or bronchitis, try this remedy, submitted by one of our readers.

  • Boil a whole onion, and afterward, drink the water. You can add a little butter and salt if the taste is unbearable!





5 tips to incorporate into your daily routine to help prevent colds this winter

Here are a few tips that may help you to ward off the nasty symptoms of a cold or flu this winter.

Tip #1: Practice proper hygiene

The most common way to spread a virus is from direct contact from an infected person to another. It’s often the little things that we don’t think twice about that can be contributing the most. Some simple, yet effective tips include: Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing/coughing, wash your hands regularly, dispose of used tissues and minimise sharing objects with others such as towels.

Tip #2: Commit to a regular & balanced exercise routine

There is an increasing amount of research showing that regular, moderate intensity exercise can boost the immune system. This is as a result of increased circulation of immune cells throughout the body resulting in an increase in the production of macrophages; the cells that attack bacteria and viruses. After exercise the functioning of the immune system will return to normal within a few hours however consistent, regular exercise can increase the longevity of these immune boosting properties. As always, balance is important, as too much exercise at a high intensity can lead to burn out, increased fatigue and increased susceptibility to infection. Research has also found that during intense physical exertion, the body produces certain hormones that temporarily lower immunity. This is important for people who are regularly involved in high intensity sports as their immunity will need to be supported more, as well as encouraging rest and recovery. When possible, exercise in the outdoors as the fresh air is a better alternative to recycled air that may be circulating inside the gym.

Tip #3: Minimise the use of heaters

During the cooler months it’s not unusual to lock ourselves indoors and turn on the heater. It is important to check filters regularly as a dirty air conditioning filter can’t effectively capture mould spores, dust particles or other irritants and they end up being spread around the home. Those in the home with respiratory allergies, breathing problems, asthma or an already compromised immune system are more likely to be affected. Heaters also dry the air which can in turn dry out the mucous membranes of the nose and upper respiratory tract, reducing defences against infection.

Tip #4: Drink plenty of water

The body needs water to remove waste from the body and to transport minerals in and out of the cells. When the body lacks water it has to work twice as hard to get oxygenated blood to the cells, and this can result in the organs and us feeling exhausted. A good way to increase our water intake during the cooler months is through herbal teas which also have their own added health benefits. Fresh ginger and lemon tea is warming, can help boost the immune system and has a number of digestive benefits. Avoid adding sugar to your tea, use good quality Manuka honey instead as this has added antimicrobial effects.

Tip #5: Eat a healthy, nutritionally-balanced diet

Be careful to avoid over-consumption of richer, nutrient deficient, convenient foods as our attention should be turned to consuming healthier, nutrient-rich foods. Foods such as soups, casseroles and stir fries are great winter dishes that plenty of nutritious vegetables and herbs can be easily added. Sweet potato and carrots contain betacarotene which can be converted to vitamin A to help prevent and fight off infections. Onions contain flavonoids, particularly quercetin which is a powerful antioxidant that is also a natural antihistamine and anti-inflammatory compound. Garlic is rich in sulphur-containing compounds which can add to their anti-bacterial health benefits.




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