What causes a cold?
Did you know that there are over 200 different strains of the common cold?
The common cold is a viral infection which can affect the upper respiratory tract (URTI) The URTI made up of your nose, nasal cavity, mouth, throat and voice box.
The most common of these are a family called rhinoviruses. These strains are easily spread from person to person. This is why it is common for children in daycare and people who work in offices, who are constantly around other people, to catch colds so frequently. These strains can live on a variety of surfaces for hours and even days at a time.
Many people believe that ‘common cold season’ is active only during the winter, however this is not the case – while you are more susceptible to catch a cold in the cooler months, you can catch one at any time of the year.
What are the symptoms of a cold?
The tickle of a looming cold is familiar to us all. The most common symptoms within the first few days of developing a cold include:
- A scratchy or tickly throat
- Tiredness or fatigue
Over the next few days, many experience a sore throat, headaches, nasal congestion and/or a runny nose, a cough. By this stage, the common cold is at its peak intensity, explaining the increase in symptoms and their severity.
Usually after a week or so from the first tickle and tiredness, our bodies will have recovered and we’re feeling better, able to return to school, work and other regular activities. If symptoms are still persisting at this time, it may be beneficial to see a health professional.
Are you getting sick with a cold?
Knowing now that the common cold can be caught at any time of the year reinforces the importance of supporting our bodies all year round. It’s important to practice good hygiene to avoid contracting the common cold from lingering in your home and workplace, regularly wash your hands and wipe down common surfaces. Focus especially on computer keyboards, pens and door handles, you’d be surprised how often one forgets to clean them!
Holland, K. (2021), Everything You Need To Know About the Common Cold, Healthline, cited on 18.02.2022, Common Cold: Symptoms, How to Treat, and More (healthline.com)
Sullivan, D. (2019), Life Cycle of the Common Cold, Healthline, cited 18.02.2022, A Look at the Life Cycle of a Cold (healthline.com)
Thomsen, M., Gennat, H. (2009), Phytotherapy Desk Reference 4th Ed, pp. 86-87, Global Natural Medicine Pty Ltd.