Many of us can relate to the diffuse symptoms of the wintertime cold including sore throat, nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, fevers, runny nose, headache and watery eyes. Our hands are the main culprits for spreading the virus. Therefore, if you have a cold and blow your nose, cough or sneeze, wash your hands before touching anyone or anything else.
Other means by which a cold (virus) will spread include:
- Inhaling droplets or particles of respiratory secretions that linger in the air
- The spread of viruses is most likely during the 2nd to 4th day of the infections when the level of the virus in nasal secretions is highest
- Unfortunately, the common cold virus can survive up to 3 hours outside the body.
In order to prevent the spread of a cold:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Stay away from people who are sick.
- Try to reduce your risk of catching a cold.
- Disinfect contaminated surfaces with soap and water or use alcohol based Wipes.
- Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep
Unfortunately, there is no magic drug to fight these viruses. Viruses differ from bacteria in that bacteria generally respond to antibiotics where viruses do not. Remember, antibiotics do not treat viral infections. Some progressive colds or sore throats are complicated by bacterial infections and will need antibiotics.
You must leave the decision up to your ear, nose and throat doctor after a thorough examination. When antibiotics are used too frequently and inappropriately, bacterial resistance ensues. To stop bacteria from becoming resistant, you must take the antibiotic exactly as prescribed until it is all gone even if you feel better after a few days. Don't save a few doses for future use!
How do you treat the symptoms of a cold and sore throat?
- Increase fluid intake, especially important if you have a fever
- Antihistamines to ease symptoms such as runny nose, watery, itchy eyes, and sneezing
- Decongestants to help clear a stuffed up nose
- Cough suppressants to calm a dry, hacking cough and irritated throat
- Expectorants to loosen mucous to allow it to drain and make a cough more productive
- Saline nasal sprays relieve nasal discomfort and maintain nasal moisture
- Growing evidence show that Vitamin C can be a preventive factor
Be aware that any cold or sore throat that persists or worsens or is accompanied by a very high fever needs intervention by a physician. For an appointment to see Dr. Schwartz, please call 702.647.2900.