Seasonal cold and flu disease in Gambia (fresh cold). What do we know about prevention, causes, symptoms and treatments?

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During the rainy season in The Gambia particularly in September and October with extremely high temperatures and increasing humidity there are increases of seasonal disease such as malaria, eye infection, colds and flu, so-called “fresh cold” affect the health of significant number of adults, chronically ill old people and particularly very young children who may even end up losing their lives.

Key points about the common cold

A cold is caused by a virus that causes inflammation of the membranes that line the nose and throat.

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The common cold is very easily spread to others. It’s often spread through airborne droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air by the sick person. The droplets are then inhaled by another person.

Symptoms may include a stuffy, runny nose, scratchy, tickly throat, sneezing, watery eyes and a low-grade fever.

Treatment to reduce symptoms includes getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids.

Because colds are caused by viruses, treatment with antibiotics won’t work.

The best prevention for the common cold is frequent hand washing and avoiding close contact with people who have colds.

What are the flu symptoms different from Malaria?

Symptoms:

o          Worried about catching the flu? Want to learn some ways to prevent flu? Then read this article to learn more about flu — what flu is how flu is spread, and who is at greatest risk for getting flu.

o          Knowledge is power when it comes to preventing flu – and I will help you and your family members to stay well!

o          Cold symptoms come on gradually and can include:

o          Blocked or runny nose, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches, coughs, sneezing, raised temperature, pressure in your ears and face, loss of taste and smell. The symptoms are the same in adults and children. Sometimes, symptoms last longer in children.

o          For children — in general, your child doesn’t need to see his or her doctor for a common cold. But seek medical attention right away if your child has any of the following:

o          Fever of 100.4 F (38 C) in newborns up to 12 weeks, Rising fever or fever lasting more than two days in a child of any age Severe symptoms, such as headache, throat pain or cough, difficulty breathing or wheezing, ear pain, extreme fussiness, unusual drowsiness, lack of appetite.

Causes

Although many types of viruses can cause a common cold, rhinoviruses are the most common cause., A cold virus enters your body through your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can spread through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks.

It also spreads by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by sharing contaminated objects, such as eating utensils, towels, toys or telephones. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after such contact, you’re likely to catch a cold.

Risk factors

These factors can increase your chances of getting a cold:

o          Age. Infants and young children are at greatest risk of colds, especially if they spend time in child care settings.

o          Weakened immune system. Having a chronic illness or otherwise weakened immune system increases your risk.

o          Time of year. Both children and adults are more likely to get colds in fall and winter, but you can get a cold anytime.

o          Smoking. You’re more likely to catch a cold and to have more-severe colds if you smoke or are around secondhand smoke.

o          Exposure. If you’re around crowds, such as at school or on an airplane, you’re likely to be exposed to viruses that cause colds.

Complications

These conditions can occur along with your cold:

o          Acute ear infection (otitis media). This occurs when bacteria or viruses enter the space behind the eardrum. Typical signs and symptoms include earaches or the return of a fever following a common cold.

o          Asthma. A cold can trigger wheezing, even if you don’t have asthma. If you have asthma, a cold can make it worse.

o          Acute sinusitis. In adults or children, a common cold that doesn’t resolve can lead to swelling and pain (inflammation) and infection of the sinuses.

o          Other infections. A common cold can lead to other infections, including strep throat, pneumonia, and croup or bronchiolitis in children. These infections need to be treated by a doctor.

Prevention

There’s no vaccine for the common cold, but you can take commonsense precautions to slow the spread of cold viruses:

o          Wash your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Teach your children the importance of hand-washing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

o          Disinfect your stuff. Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, electronics, and kitchen and bathroom countertops daily. This is especially important when someone in your family has a cold. Wash children’s toys periodically.

o          Cover your cough. Sneeze and cough into tissues. Throw away used tissues right away, then wash your hands thoroughly. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into the bend of your elbow and then wash your hands.

o          Don’t share. Don’t share drinking glasses or eating utensils with other family members. Use your own glass or disposable cups when you or someone else is sick. Label the cup or glass with the name of the person using it.

o          Stay away from people with colds. Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold. Stay out of crowds, when possible. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

o          Review your child care center’s policies. Look for a child care setting with good hygiene practices and clear policies about keeping sick children at home.

o          Take care of yourself. Eating well and getting exercise and enough sleep is good for your overall health

How is the common cold diagnosed?

Most common colds are diagnosed based on reported symptoms. However, cold symptoms may be similar to certain bacterial infections, allergies, and other medical conditions. Always consult your healthcare provider for a diagnosis if your symptoms are severe.

What to do

There’s no cure for a cold, but you can look after yourself at home by:

Resting, drinking plenty of fluids and eating healthily taking over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, to reduce any fever or discomfort using decongestant sprays or tablets to relieve a blocked nose

trying remedies such as gargling salt water and sucking on menthol sweets.

Many painkillers and decongestants are available from pharmacies without a prescription. They’re generally safe for older children and adults to take, but might not be suitable for babies, young children, pregnant women, people with certain underlying health conditions, and those taking certain other medications. Speak to a pharmacist if you’re unsure.

How do colds spread?

In general, a person becomes contagious from a few days before their symptoms begin until all of their symptoms have gone. This means most people will be infectious for around two weeks.

You can catch the virus from an infectious person by:

touching an object or surface contaminated by infected droplets and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes

touching the skin of someone who has the infected droplets on their skin and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes

inhaling tiny droplets of fluid that contain the cold virus – these are launched into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, Colds spread most easily among groups of people in constant close contact, such as families and children in school or day care facilities. They’re also more frequent during the winter, although it’s not clear exactly why.

How can you stop a cold spreading?

You can take some simple steps to help prevent the spread of a cold. For example:

o          wash your hands regularly, particularly before touching your nose or mouth and before handling food

o          always sneeze and cough into tissues – this will help prevent the virus-containing droplets from your nose and mouth entering the air, where they can infect others; you should throw away used tissues immediately and wash your hands

o          clean surfaces regularly to keep them free of germs , use your own cup, plates, cutlery and kitchen utensils

o          don’t share towels or toys with someone who has a cold

o          It’s been suggested that vitamin C, zinc and garlic supplements may help reduce your risk of getting a cold, but there’s currently not enough strong evidence to support this.

suffering from a cold you have two choices;

– Seeking a Doctor who prescribes medicine, your recovery will take one week., Resting, drinking plenty of liquids, avoiding smoking, alcohol and taking vitamin C and pain relievers, your recovery will take 7 days.

But be aware that some people can and perhaps will develop life threatening complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the Flu.

Millions of people worldwide get infected by the flu virus every year and some develop life-threatening complications. The Flu can make long term health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the Flu, and people with long term heart disease and having high blood pressure may also worsen this condition that is triggered by the Flu.

How long does a cold last?

The average common cold lasts anywhere from 7 to 10 days Trusted Source, but they can last as long as 2 weeks Trusted Source. Depending on your overall health, you may have symptoms for more or less time. For example, people who smoke or have asthma may experience symptoms for a longer period of time.

If your symptoms don’t ease or disappear within 7 to 10 days, make an appointment to see a doctor. If your symptoms begin worsening after 5 days, it’s also important to see a doctor.

Symptoms that don’t go away or get worse could be a sign of a bigger problem, such as the flu or strep throat.

Can someone die of a common cold?

People often mistake the flu for a bad cold, since flu symptoms mimic a cold. … Flu can directly lead to death when the virus triggers severe inflammation in the lungs. When this happens, it can cause rapid respiratory failure because your lungs can’t transport enough oxygen into the rest of your body., Can a cold go away without medicine

There is no cure for the common cold, and the body can usually fight off the infection without the need for medical treatment.

For further information you can send only messages on WhatsApp to Dr Azadeh on 7774469, 3063333 or send email to [email protected]

DR AZADEH, Senior Lecturer at the University of The Gambia, Senior Physician, Senior Consultant in Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Clinical Director at Medicare Health Services.