Most people know the signs and symptoms of the common cold – sore throat, runny nose, coughing and sneezing. But did you know that a cold is actually an infection? It’s one of the most common infectious diseases that family medicine doctors treat. And having a cough is among the leading reasons people visit their doctor , according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On average, children get 6-8 colds a year, and adults get 2-3 colds a year, contributing to the 62 million colds that sicken people each year in the U.S., the CDC says. As a result, Americans spend several billions of dollars every year on over-the-counter (OTC) medications to treat cold symptoms, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. And 93 percent of adults prefer to treat their minor ailments with OTC medicines before seeking professional care.
But when it comes to getting over or healing from the common cold, health experts note the difference between alleviating bothersome symptoms and ‘curing’ the familiar illness.
“We see some patients after they’ve tried to ‘cure’ a cold on their own but find after a few days they still feel sick,” said Nicole Schwenker, an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) with Baptist Health Express Care at Country Walk . “While there may not be a cure for a cold, there are certain things that can be done to prevent it from getting worse, such as resting as much as possible, staying home from school or work when you have a fever, and drinking plenty of fluids. Warm liquids like hot tea or water can help loosen up mucus and congestion, especially when it’s in the chest.”
What do you believe are the reasons people get a cold? And what are the best ways to treat it? This infographic clears up some of the widespread myths about the common cold. See which one catches you by surprise.
Infographic by Irina de Souza