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