Signs, symptoms and causes of the common cold
- What is a cold?
- Signs and symptoms of a cold
- The main causes of colds
- Possible complications after a cold
- The temperature is 37 after a cold - what to do?
What is a cold?
The common cold is a generic term for a number of uncomplicated respiratory tract infections that cause inflammation of the mucous membranes in the nose and throat. But in a similar context, the term is used by people far from medicine.
If you turn to explanatory dictionaries in search of the definition of this word, then in most cases you can find that a cold is called a disease that is caused by hypothermia of the body, and not by viral infections. In order to catch a cold, it is enough to wet your feet in a puddle, freeze over at the bus stop while waiting for the bus, or, for example, drink cold juice. But as a rule, when people say the phrase: "I have a cold," in most cases we are talking about a banal viral infection. That is why, in the context of this article, the word cold will be considered a synonym for ARVI.
There are a great many common cold viruses, there are more than 250 of them. That is why scientists have not yet succeeded in developing a comprehensive vaccine against them. The most common are rhinoviruses, they primarily affect the nasal mucosa and are a common cause of colds. It is almost impossible to avoid collision with them, which is why there are no people who could manage to avoid colds in their lives. But by understanding the causes of problems in the body, you can help it cope with the disease faster, and also distinguish it from a more serious illness such as the flu.
Signs and symptoms of a cold
It can be quite difficult to distinguish on your own which disease has struck the body - a cold or a flu. But if there is no way to see a doctor, then the symptoms should be studied thoroughly:
- The first and most obvious feature of all ARVI is difficulty in nasal breathing. If there is a possibility that an allergy may be the cause of the edema, then you should pay attention to the accompanying signs of the disease;
- Sore throat and sore throat are also constant companions of a cold;
- A slight increase in body temperature: the maximum mark for colds is 38.2 - 38.5 degrees;
- After the first day, cough and runny nose are added to these unpleasant companions of the disease.
The first sign of a cold
Nasal congestion is not only the first, but almost the main symptom of a cold, by which it can be distinguished, for example, from a sore throat. On the first day of the progression of the disease, the secreted secretion is transparent and liquid. The discharge is profuse, quite often causing sneezing, as well as itching in the nose with red eyes.
24 hours after the onset of ARVI, the secret becomes thicker and more viscous. Its color darkens. You should not be afraid of this, such a change in color does not mean that a bacterial infection has joined, but indicates the beginning of recovery. The body is actively fighting infection, the main enemies of all viruses that have entered its cells - leukocytes - die in the nose. It is they who give the mucous secretions a darker color. Therefore, antibiotics should not be used in this situation.
It is important to know the differences between allergies and colds, since, in both cases, there is abundant discharge from the nose, sneezing and itching. But at the same time, the allergy lasts much longer, sometimes up to several months, and the symptoms of a cold disappear already on the 8th day of treatment. Edema of the mucous membrane upon contact with an allergen manifests itself instantly, while with a cold it begins to develop gradually with a systematic deterioration of the condition. The main distinguishing feature of allergy from ARVI is that with a cold, the temperature always rises, even within insignificant limits, with allergies this never happens. Naturally, these diseases are treated in different ways.
High fever without signs of a cold
Indicators on a thermometer above 38.5 should definitely alert a person. If such values are not yet accompanied by the characteristic signs of a cold, then a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. Influenza is one of the most common causes of an increase in body temperature to similar values; it is accompanied by symptoms such as: aches in the body and joints, general weakness, pain in the eyes, chills.
A rise in temperature to high values can occur due to a host of other diseases, and not only due to the ingestion of the influenza virus.
These are inflammations of the type:
- bacterial nature, for example, pyelonephritis, tonsillitis, meningitis, etc.;
- infections: tuberculosis, typhoid, HIV, etc.;
- fungal and parasitic lesions: mononucleosis, malaria, candidiasis, etc.;
- oncology: tumors, lymphomas, leukemias, etc.;
- systemic inflammations such as rheumatism, arthritis, lupus, etc.
Precisely because raising the temperature to high values without the addition of symptoms of a cold is a very formidable sign, it is imperative to consult a doctor.
In more detail: about high fever without symptoms
The main causes of colds
If we talk about colds in the context of ARVI, then the only cause of its occurrence is the virus and there can be no other options here. But it is quite another matter that the virus does not begin its vital activity in every cell, but only in the one that does not offer it worthy of resistance.
That is why the following can be distinguished as indirect factors that can affect the incidence of colds in a person:
- Hypothermia. It is dangerous in both cold and hot weather. Sometimes it is enough to get your feet wet, eat ice cream or stand in a draft, as in a few hours all the signs of a cold will be "evident". The vessels of an unprepared person do not have time to rebuild and adequately respond to the temperature drop, as a result of which a runny nose appears, the throat turns red, etc.;
- Stress can also be an indirect culprit for frequent colds. Most people regard this reason as undeserving, however, this is far from the case. Nervous tension has a detrimental effect on immunity, no less than hypothermia. But since it is impossible to avoid stressful situations, you should learn to control your emotions and take natural sedatives;
- Any chronic illness in the acute phase disrupts the normal balance of the body and reduces immunity. Quite common are cases when, against the background of manifestations of peptic ulcer disease or diabetes mellitus, a person begins to suffer from frequent colds;
- Unhealthy diet, poisoning, alcohol and smoking naturally negatively affect the state of immunity. If these factors are eliminated, then colds will begin to bypass.
All these circumstances negatively affect the body and become the reason that viruses begin to more actively attack unprotected cells. The weaker the immune system, the less strength a person has to resist infections and the more often he gets sick.
Causes of frequent colds
Having a cold 2 times a year is absolutely not scary for an adult. But when the disease overtakes more than 5 times, and is also accompanied by various complications, then it's time to worry about your health.
Signs that indicate a weakening of the body's defenses:
- Frequent colds;
- Exacerbation of chronic diseases;
- Weakness, sleep disturbances and excessive fatigue;
- Unmotivated aggression;
- Malfunctions of the digestive tract;
- Visible changes in the condition of the skin - dryness, peeling, etc.
In order to prevent a cold from overtaking every 2 to 3 months, it is necessary to raise the immune system in various ways. The physiological ones include good nutrition, with the obligatory inclusion of protein foods, dairy products and vitamins, sports and a competent daily routine, as well as hardening. Pharmacological methods of increasing the body's resistance to viruses include the use of natural adaptogens, for example, echinacea and ginseng, as well as prebiotics and homeopathic remedies. As for immunomodulators, a doctor's consultation is required before starting the appointment.
Possible complications after a cold
As a rule, any cold lasts an average of a week and disappears without a trace. But it also happens that complications arise after an illness.
Sinusitis can often develop after a cold. This disease is expressed in inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, the ducts are clogged, as a result of which they are filled with mucus, pain occurs in the face and eyes, and the temperature rises.
A cold can be complicated by bronchitis. The course of this disease is characterized by a cough with a discharge of viscous yellow sputum. Most often, the human body copes with this disease on its own. But if shortness of breath appears, then you can not do without medication.
Colds can be complicated by tonsillitis. In this case, the tonsils, which are located in the throat and are called glands, are primarily affected. A white coating appears on them, and painful sensations arise when swallowing. The most severe cases are accompanied by fever and complete refusal to eat.
Often, colds are accompanied by otitis media, that is, inflammation of the middle ear. Symptoms of the disease are pronounced - it is pain in the ears, sleep disturbance, when the eardrum breaks, discharge appears and the temperature rises.
The common cold can exacerbate and aggravate previously existing chronic diseases. This applies to diabetes mellitus, HIV infection, emphysema and some others.
There are several reasons to see a doctor after a cold:
- Pain in the ears or sinuses, when pressing on the eyes or when bending over;
- Temperature above 38.5 ° C;
- Prolonged cough with sputum production and shortness of breath;
- Colds persist after 2 weeks and symptoms worsen.
The temperature is 37 after a cold - what to do?
Quite often, after suffering a cold, you can observe a slight increase in temperature up to 37.2 ° C.
If you find similar values on the thermometer, you should pay attention to indicators such as:
- Is the general state of health impaired;
- Are there any residual symptoms of a cold after two or more weeks;
- Are there any symptoms indicating complications from a cold?
Many doctors are inclined to believe that after some severe respiratory infections, an increase in body temperature can be observed for another 2 weeks.
In this case, you should not take any drugs, it is advisable to follow the following recommendations:
- If possible, stay at home, rest more, do not burden your diet with fatty foods and consume as much liquid as possible;
- If going to work is inevitable, then you should beware of increased physical exertion, as this can adversely affect the activity of the heart and blood vessels;
- You can support your body by ingesting various herbal teas and decoctions.
These methods are effective when the temperature does not exceed the threshold of 37.2 degrees, and if the general condition is not disturbed. If you feel worse, you should seek the advice of a doctor who will conduct an examination and make appropriate appointments. As a rule, a general and clinical blood test in such cases is very informative and allows you to determine and prevent the onset of a possible complication.
So, all people are susceptible to colds. Symptoms can be more or less pronounced, but ARVI is always characterized by: runny nose, sore throat and a slight increase in temperature. The reason leading to the appearance of the disease is a virus that has entered the body. Under the mask of a common cold, other, more formidable diseases, such as the flu, can be hidden. Therefore, it is vital to know the symptoms of ARVI. Against the background of immunity weakened by a number of factors, colds may occur more often than usual. Such conditions threaten the development of complications and require medical attention.
Understanding what happens to the body at the time of a cold, you can always provide it with adequate assistance in the fight against infection.
Article author: Mochalov Pavel Alexandrovich | d. m. n. therapist
Education: Moscow Medical Institute. IM Sechenov, specialty - "General Medicine" in 1991, in 1993 "Occupational Diseases", in 1996 "Therapy".