Welcome to the Cold Health Channel by eMedTV! The common cold –- or what most people just refer to as a cold -- is something that practically everyone gets at one time or another. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22 million school days are lost annually in the United States due to the cold. In the course of a year, people in the United States suffer 1 billion colds, according to some estimates.
When Is Cold Season?
In the United States, the cold season begins around late August and lasts until March or April. One possible cause of cold season is the opening of schools in the fall, which brings more people in closer proximity to one another. Another possible cause of has to do with changes in relative humidity.
Causes of the Cold
Viruses are the causes of the cold -- and there are more than 200 of them. Cold viruses include rhinovirus and coronavirus. Things like the weather or being too cold or too warm are not causes of the cold.
How Is the Cold Virus Spread?
Transmission of a cold virus occurs when you touch a surface that has cold germs on it and then touch your eyes or nose. It can also occur when you are near a contagious person who sneezes. If you have a cold, minimize the transmission of the cold to others by covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
Cold symptoms include runny nose, sore throat, and cough. These cold symptoms usually last from 1 to 2 weeks. Symptoms that last longer than this may be an indication of allergies rather than a cold. In rare cases, cold symptoms can lead to complications or to a more serious illness.
Treatment for a Cold
To date, there is no cure for the cold, despite the marketing claims of various products. Zinc, vitamin C, and echinacea have all been put forward as a possible cure. The research, however, does not support this. Because there are so many viruses that can cause the cold, it will likely be some time before a cure for the cold is discovered.
In the meantime, cold treatment options include bed rest, drinking lots of fluids, and taking cold medications. Check with your doctor before giving medications to children as a cold treatment, since some medications, like aspirin, have been linked to the development of more serious conditions.
When to See the Doctor for "Cold" Symptoms
It can be difficult to know when to call the doctor for a cold or flu, especially since most of the time, colds and flu just have to run their course. Symptoms that get better and then return, a worsening of symptoms, or people with an underlying medical condition -- these are examples of when to call the doctor for a cold or flu.