The common cold

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By Musa K Jobarteh
5th year medical student

Common cold or otherwise medially referred to as viral rhinitis is an infection that affects the nose and the throat (upper respiratory tract), the infection is caused by various groups of viruses. It is safe to say that common cold alone is not a medical emergency unless it is persistent and accompanied by symptoms such as fever, chest pain or headache, the infection is usually not harmful because most often it resolves naturally or with use of home remedies. However, care must be taken when one contracts the infection.

Fresh cold can be transmitted by contact with infected surfaces or persons, on average everyone contracts the virus twice or thrice. It affects people of all ages but more common in children probably because of improper hygiene. The infection might stay for long as ten days but if it persists, then seeking medical attention becomes urgently necessary.

It is true common cold is not a cause for worry but it is paramount to stay safe since recurrent infection creates way for more severe illness to progress or manifest because this in essence overwhelms or keeps our bodies’ soldiers (white blood cells) busy as such might not effectively provide defence to those pathogens.


How do we stay safe? By maintaining hand hygiene at all times, special caution must be taken with children to ensure hand washing is done more often. Observance of cough etiquette to limit spread, avoid unnecessary touching of surfaces in public places such as door handles, stairs and the likes. Most importantly, avoid touching your face with your hands. This has proven to yield maximal effects.

Home remedies to use to manage common cold include; drinking honey, gargling salt water for some minutes helps relieve sore throat, drinking a lot of water (staying hydrated) and citrus juices are suitable sources of Vitamin C which is required for immune boosting. All these mechanisms have proven to be effective in resolving the symptoms.