They call it the common cold for a reason:
Although colds go away in about a week, and there’s nothing you can do to speed up the process, there are many ways you can reduce the symptoms and feel less miserable while you wait it out.
At Redwood Family Health Center, we see lots of folks in McKinney and Farmers Ranch, Texas, with colds this time of year. As the chilly weather drives us indoors, we’re more vulnerable to the cold viruses lurking on surfaces and in the air.
Colds resolve on their own, so there’s no reason to make an appointment unless complications set in. Here, Dr. Venkata Vallury and Dr. Visalakshi Vallury explain how you get colds, how to self-treat colds, and when to come in and see us.
Multiple viruses, most commonly rhinoviruses, cause colds, and there’s no preventive vaccine or curative treatment. The good news is that colds aren’t life-threatening, and they don’t last long. Since you’ve likely had several throughout your lifetime, you already know the symptoms:
You may even have a side of body aches. One of the first questions we get from our patients is: Is this a cold or the flu?
Cold and flu symptoms are similar and can be difficult to differentiate. However, typically, flu symptoms are more intense. In addition to the cold symptoms listed above, you can expect fever, chills, body aches, and fatigue when you have the flu. Unlike colds, you can prevent the flu with a yearly vaccination, which we offer here.
The goal with a cold is to stay ahead of the symptoms and prevent them from progressing. If and when they do, you’ll feel worse and may be under the weather longer. Here’s how to feel as good as possible despite your cold.
It sounds too simple to work, but rest is at the top of our list for a reason. Downtime allows your body to repair itself. If you remain busy and active during your cold, your body divides its resources and can’t devote all its energy to healing. So, even if you feel well enough to go to work, don’t.
You may notice that your appetite has diminished when you have a cold. A stuffy nose makes it difficult to taste your food, so you’re less tempted to indulge. The change in diet can lead to mild dehydration. Nose blowing, sweating, and diarrhea also contribute to the problem.
Dehydration means you don’t have adequate electrolytes to help you fight the virus. So, keep a water bottle handy and drink plenty throughout the day. Women should shoot for about 91 ounces, and men, 125 ounces, but needs vary.
Your local drugstore has an entire aisle dedicated to relieving cold symptoms, and many products are effective. Choose medications that address your specific symptoms by reading the label information.
Many multi-symptom products contain ingredients you don’t need, so look for single-symptom medications or combinations that tackle what’s bothering you most.
During the winter, forced-air heating dries the air in our homes. You may feel warm and cozy, but your nasal passages hate it. Running a room humidifier can bring the air back into balance, so your sinuses stand a fighting chance at defeating the cold virus.
Saline nasal sprays and drops can help, too.
Most cases of the common cold don’t require medical attention, but it may be best to come see us under certain circumstances. For example:
Also, people at risk for complications, such as children under 3, pregnant women, adults over 65, and folks with chronic conditions, should err on the side of caution and schedule an appointment. We can assess your symptoms and ensure you don’t develop related respiratory problems.
If you have questions about your cold symptoms, call us or request an appointment using our online booking tool. We’re here to help.