The Common Cold: The True Look Behind the Illness

Written by on November 12, 2012 in Health - No comments | Print this page


You know the feeling all to well. We all do. It can happen with the simple act of waking up to a new day. The alarm sounds. You roll over to find that your head is throbbing and you feel a bit stuffed up. You ignore it.

Later, you notice that your throat feels scratchy. You feel like someone’s cranked up the heat and then comes a sneeze. Your denial is then over. You concede and accept it: you’ve got the common cold. For such a common illness, it is a wonder that there is no cure for it.

The Cause

So what causes the common cold? Firstly, as we do know viruses have been proven to be the culprit. There are other speculations as to why we catch the common cold and that goes back to where the infection got its name. Let’s start with the types of viruses though. There exist over 200 different types of viruses associated with the common colds. Often times, for someone who is sick, there may be one to several viruses at work in their system. The most common virus is called rhinovirus, which accounts for 30-80% of colds. Others include picornavirus, which has 99 known serotypes, or variations. Others include enteroviruses, metapneumovirus and coronavirus, just to name a few.


Transmission of the common cold occurs by direct human contact, contact with infected objects or in the form of aerosol through air currents. Some viruses can survive for extended periods on surfaces before they are touched. Subsequent to this contact, humans can become infected by touching their eyes or nose. Circumstances, which increase the chances of infection occurring, are when people are in close proximity together and also have poor hygiene. This is frequently the case in day cares, schools and large work environments. The infection is then spread to the family and the disbursement of the infection continues. If symptoms become severe and turn into pneumonia, it may be necessary visit your local hospital.

Does Cold Cause a Cold?

Now comes the myth we’ve all heard from our grandmothers. Right as you’re walking out the door they’ll belt out “Honey, put on a coat or you’ll catch cold!” According to studies, it stands proven that one cannot actually catch a cold from being cold. That being said, there is evidence that when our internal temperature decreases, it makes our immune system more vulnerable and susceptible to the cold virus. Often times, the real reason why we catch colds in colder climates is due to spending more time indoors in close quarters with others.

Although it may sound unfortunate, the thing to do to combat the common cold is to take precautionary measures to avoid getting it in the first place. That means, washing hands frequently, keeping hand sanitizer handy and taking supplements to boost our immune systems while maintaining a healthy diet. If it makes your grandma feel any better, staying out of the cold might be something to try too.

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