Seniors in Joliet say, ‘Gesundheit’

Ah-choo! With cooler weather on the way, the cold season revs up, and there’s nothing as miserable as a bad head cold. How about this statistic from healthline.com: Americans “catch” an estimated one billion colds every year. Most adults suffer from two to four colds per year.

The common cold causes a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, and, in some cases, coughing and a sore throat. Colds can occur at any time during the year but are most common in the fall and winter months.

A head cold really is a viral infection which settles in the mucus membranes of the nose. A cold is usually harmless, although it can be quite uncomfortable. Typically it resolves on its own after around ten days. Some people experience a mild fever and watery eyes, and people may complain of feeling unwell.

The mucus which drains from the nose is typically clear in color. Some people with a head cold find that they cough and experience hoarseness because of mucus dripping down their throats.

No vaccine has been developed for the common cold which can be caused by many different viruses, but there are some common-sense precautions to slow the spread of autumn viruses:

  • Wash your hands. Clean your hands thoroughly and often. Carry a bottle of alcohol-based hand rub containing at least 60 percent alcohol for times when soap and water aren’t available. These gels kill most germs.
  • Scrub your stuff. Keep kitchen and bathroom countertops clean, especially when someone nearby has a cold.
  • Use tissues. Always sneeze and cough into tissues. Discard used tissues right away, and then wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Don’t share. Use your own glass or disposable cups when you or someone else is sick.
  • Steer clear of colds. Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold.

Drinking lots of fluids, especially warm fluids, can help as can staying in a warm and slightly humid environment. Avoiding dairy is advised, because this tends to increase mucus production. Rest, many people think, helps a cold resolve more quickly.

If a head cold is persistent, a doctor can prescribe decongestants and pain management medications. Saline rinses or sprays in the nose can also help to flush out the mucus and increase comfort. However, patients should be aware that prolonged use of decongestant sprays can lead to an inflammation of the mucus membranes in the nose.

Sometimes a head cold can become a sinus infection. A head cold can also lead to an ear infection. While these infections sometimes can resolve on their own, medical treatment may be necessary especially if the condition becomes especially painful.

Web MD mentions more worrisome situations and complications when it comes to colds. It’s a good idea to consult the doctor for any of these conditions:

  • Asthma and Colds – Living with asthma is no easy task, and a cold can make breathing more difficult.
  • Heart Disease and Colds – Catching a cold for someone with heart disease poses a greater danger, because the cold makes it difficult to take in oxygen efficiently.
  • Diabetes and Colds – For those with diabetes, a common cold makes it difficult to keep blood glucose levels balanced.
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