It’s that time of year again - the com­mon cold

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Tech & Science -

IF you are like me, and you have the im­mune sys­tem of a mal­nour­ished chi­huahua puppy, then there’s ev­ery chance that, as you read this ar­ti­cle, your nose is run­ning, your eyes are wa­ter­ing, your head is foggy and aching, and you might well be cough­ing up a lung.

If that is in­deed the case, my sym­pa­thies fel­low poor soul.

It may help ease your suf­fer­ing a frac­tion to know a tib-bit or two about this cursed mal­ady.

The his­tory of the com­mon cold could po­ten­tially pre­date ho­mosapi­ens.

The ear­li­est records of the symp­toms of this ill­ness and its pos­si­ble treat­ments can be found in Egyp­tian Ebers Papyrus – the old­est known med­i­cal text in ex­is­tence.

The com­mon cold is ex­tremely, well, com­mon, and peo­ple all around the globe are af­fected.

Chil­dren catch a cold some six to ten times a year while school age chil­dren may catch a cold up 12 times a years.

Adults on the other hand catch a cold two to five times a year.

In ag­ing peo­ple symp­to­matic in­fec­tion rates are higher sim­ply be­cause their im­mune sys­tem grad­u­ally grows weaker.

The com­mon cold is gen­er­ally self-lim­it­ing and mild and 50% of the cases are usu­ally cured within 10 days from the day of in­fec­tion and 90% of cases are cured within 15 days.

The com­mon cold can lead to se­vere com­pli­ca­tions, how­ever this is not gen­er­ally the case in oth­er­wise healthy peo­ple.

Peo­ple who are ei­ther very young or old or peo­ple or who are im­muno­sup­pressed are more threat­ened by com­pli­ca­tions caused by the com­mon cold.

The most re­cur­rent com­pli­ca­tions that can arise due to a com­mon cold in­clude ear in­fec­tion, pharyn­gi­tis, or si­nusi­tis.

Pliny, a Ro­man Philoso­pher from 1st Cen­tury AD pro­posed that peo­ple suf­fer­ing from a cold should kiss a mouse on the muz­zle to cure the ill­ness.

In 400 B.C. Hip­pocrates noted that bleed­ing a pa­tient was a wide­spread method used as a cure for the cold, along with many other ail­ments.

In a re­cent study it was found that stand­ing 6 feet away from the per­son in­fected with a cold virus can help pre­vent the spread of in­fec­tion.

In the study it was found that a typ­i­cal sneeze trav­els 200 feet at an ini­tial speed of 15 feet per sec­ond, while nor­mal breath trav­els at a speed of 4.5 feet per sec­ond.

Many cold viruses can sur­vive up to 48 hours out­side the body and they can ac­tu­ally sur­vive on skin or other touch­able sur­faces like el­e­va­tor but­tons, kitchen coun­ters, key­boards, light switches, toi­let paper rolls, door knobs and more.

One ques­tion many peo­ple have is - why is there no proper pre­ven­ta­tive rem­edy for this ill­ness?

The sim­ple an­swer is that there are over 200 dif­fer­ent viruses that can lead to the com­mon cold and that some of those viruses have mul­ti­ple strains.

For in­stance, rhi­novirus (which is ac­tu­ally re­spon­si­ble for 40% of com­mon cold cases) has over 100 dif­fer­ent strains.

Ul­ti­mately this means there is no sin­gle uni­ver­sal vac­cine that can pre­vent peo­ple from catch­ing a cold.

It’s a pop­u­lar con­cept that a per­son is more sus­cep­ti­ble to catch­ing a cold when they are ex­posed to cold weather.

This no­tion prob­a­bly came from the fact that the com­mon cold is more preva­lent dur­ing the win­ter months.

This, how­ever, is not the case.

Sci­en­tists have fig­ured out that there is no direct cor­re­la­tion be­tween cold tem­per­a­ture and be­com­ing in­fected with a cold virus.

Some com­mon cold viruses are ca­pa­ble of re­pro­duc­ing 16 mil­lion off­spring within 24 hours, which in­di­cates just how dif­fi­cult it is to com­bat the spread of this ill­ness.

So good health to you this win­ter, and if you do catch a cold, re­mem­ber to cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough, wash your hands fre­quently, and try to dis­in­fect sur­faces you in­ter­act with as best as pos­si­ble.

With Chris Fe­b­vre, GRAPHIC ARTIST cfeb­vre@ne­me­dia.com.au

AH-CHOO: Re­searchers at the Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal of Bonn in Ger­many have dis­cov­ered that the first hu­man to contract the cold virus may have caught it from a camel.

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