COMMON COLD: THIS COLD AND CATARRH IS KILLING ME!

common cold

You woke up this morning. Things are not the same. You feel unwell: you are coughing and sneezing; you’ve got a sore throat and a runny nose; your body aches and your head aches; your nostrils are ‘blocked’ and your body is hot; you feel cold, you feel weak! Bingo!! You’ve got a visitor, who most people call “common cold”, and who doctors call “rhino-pharyngitis” [Just forget about this doctors’ own!]

Let’s meet our visitor!

NAME: Common cold. [ This is, maybe, because it is said to be the most common infection in humans]

DURATION OF VISIT: Lasts about 7-10 days [ Common cold sometimes resolves before then. However, it  may also last up to 3 weeks]. And it could “visit” again almost immediately!

MODE OF TRANSPORT: Air-borne [actually Common cold is caused by viruses, and not directly by cold or wet weather, as most people believe. These viruses tend to be relatively common during these seasons and the cold weather makes the respiratory system prone to be infected. It is a viral infection (and don’t be scared by that word “virus”!). The symptoms you feel are actually your body’s ways of protecting you and attempting to get rid of the invader! Close contact with infected people, or contact with contaminated objects could get you infected too]. Simple.

HOW TO SEND OUR VISITOR PACKING: Impossible! [Truth is: common cold has no cure! I know I sound like a prophet of doom and gloom, but this is the truth. Like viral infections, it will, eventually, “run its course”. Not to worry, all it does, usually, is to cause discomfort, and nothing more. It does not kill.  So, the best we can do is to see how we can be comfortable, while it stays, and overstays its welcome and leaves. You may not even notice its presence!

How to feel better. What to do.

  • Wash your hands occasionally, with soap and water (to prevent transmission and re-infection)
  • Drink plenty of fluids and eat fruits.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep.
  • Get warm salt water and gargle (rinse the mouth by holding the water at the back of the mouth and stirring it with your breath, just like you do when brushing your teeth).
  • Do “steaming”. Bend over a container of hot water and breathe. Covering yourself with a thick cloth and putting a mentholated substance (say, “Robb”) in the water is usually soothing. No burn your sef o!
  • Taking pain-relievers (like Ibuprofen), or drugs for the feverish feeling (like paracetamol) would be very helpful. Cough syrups will also help you breathe better and feel better. As for vitamin C, it works if you believe it works! Antibiotics are not usually needed (because antibiotics are for bacteria, and we are dealing with viruses here), but it’s given sometimes to prevent what we call “secondary bacterial infections” [just forget about that if you don’t understand it]
  • Do nothing. Simply fold your arms and watch.

And most importantly, stop saying: “this cold and catarrh is killing me”, because it doesn’t kill! Just like everything in life, (pleasure or pain), it comes and goes! It comes, to pass!!

See you soon. And, lest I forget, sorry for the long silence.

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Dr. 'Malik Haruna King is a practicing Nigerian Medical Doctor and Sex Therapist. He helps people with sensitive health issues find answers to questions they are too ashamed to ask!