The Common Cold

Colds are very common. Most often symptoms are mild and include a runny nose, sniffles, sneezing and coughing. Sometimes a person with a cold can be very sick with a fever, lack of energy and loss of appetite. Symptoms usually last 7 - 10 days.

Colds are caused by viruses and cannot be treated with antibiotics. They are easily spread from person to person. The virus is carried in the saliva and nasal secretions and spreads through the air when people cough, sneeze or blow their noses. The virus can also get on fingers after wiping a runny nose and then be spread to someone else through touch. The virus can also be left on surfaces or objects and be picked up by someone else.

Typically, it takes 2 - 4 days to develop symptoms after contact with the virus.

Here are a few tips to help you avoid a cold:

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone suffering with a cold. Cold viruses easily spread from the hands of someone who is ill to the eyes, nose and hands of someone who is not.
  • Keep washrooms, kitchenette and other common surfaces clean. Cold viruses can survive on surfaces and objects for hours.
  • Discard used tissues right away.
  • When indoors, make sure the air is not too dry. Dry nasal passages are more vulnerable to cold viruses
  • Quit smoking. Those who smoke are more susceptible to colds and other respiratory illnesses.

If you do come down with a cold, get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Don't demand antibiotics -- the cold will run its course.