By EDUARDO GONZALES
Why is the common cold common? Why is there no vaccine for it? Is it really true that vitamin C can prevent and cure this disease? —email@example.com
The common cold is indeed very common. In fact, it is the most common disease of humans because it is easy to catch, no one gets immune to it, there is no cure for it, and it is difficult to prevent.
The common cold is easy to catch because its causative agents are ever-present in our environment. There are more than 200 types of viruses that can bring about the illness and all find it easy to enter the respiratory tract by direct contact (e.g., touching your mouth or nose after touching surfaces that are contaminated with the viruses) or inhalation of droplets and aerosolized particles from the sneeze or cough of infected people. The most common of the cold viruses are the rhinoviruses (of which there are more than 100 types), that are responsible for at least 50 percent of colds.
Other viruses that can cause colds include coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza, and parainfluenza.
No one gets immune to cold because despite the fact that a bout with a particular virus generally confers lifetime immunity against the virus, it takes longer than a lifetime to encounter and develop antibodies against all the viruses that can produce the disease.
Fortunately, despite its widespread occurrence, the common cold is not a serious health threat.
It is generally a very mild, self-limiting, and often, self-diagnosed illness that subsides spontaneously in a few days to a week even without treatment. But, although generally benign, cold is the number one reason for absences from school and the office of school children and office workers, respectively.
A cold that lasts more than a week is probably not a cold.
Signs and symptoms of common cold—nasal congestion, watery nasal discharge, sneezing, itchy throat, mild cough, headache, and body malaise—are also present in the early phases of many serious diseases affecting the respiratory and other systems of the body such as flu, pneumonia, bronchitis, meningitis, etc. Furthermore, secondary bacterial infection sometimes complicates common cold. Hence, any cold-like illness that persists for more than a week is probably not a cold and necessitates consultation with a physician.
There is no cure for the common cold yet. At present, the standard regimen for the condition, aside from bed rest and liberal fluid intake, includes decongestants and/or antihistamines to relieve the nasal congestion and discharge, and analgesics to relieve the headache and body pains. Nasal sprays containing decongestants are rapidly effective. However, their prolonged use is not advisable because this can result in rebound congestion and create problems worse than the original ones.
How to prevent common cold
There is no cold vaccine because the numerous causative agents coupled with the mild course of the illness make it impractical to develop one. Besides, the cold viruses mutate astoundingly fast.
There are no measures that can completely prevent cold but you can reduce your risk of getting one if you.
Wash your hands with soap and water frequently.
Minimize touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Stay away from people who have cold, as well as crowded places.
Keep your surroundings clean. Wipe frequently used surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops, remote controllers, etc.
Can vitamin C cure and prevent cold?
Clinical studies demonstrate no clear benefit of vitamin C either in the prevention or treatment of colds. Hence, in so far as the common cold is concerned, vitamin could increase the incidence of kidney stone formation, but this is not borne out by evidence.
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