Infectious Disease of the Mouth
After initial infection, the viral replication cycle begins within 8 to 12 hours. Symptoms can occur shortly thereafter, and usually begin within 2 to 5 days after infection, although occasionally in as littleas 10 hours after infection. The first indication of a cold is often a sore or scratchy throat. Other
common symptoms are runny nose, congestion, sneezingandcough.These are sometimes
accompanied bymuscle aches, fatigue,malaise, headache,weakness,or loss of appetite. Colds
occasionally causefever and can sometimes lead to extreme exhaustion. (However, these symptomsare more usual in influenza,and can differentiate the two infections.) The symptoms of a cold usually
resolve after about one week, but can last up to 14 days, with a cough lasting longer than other symptoms. Symptoms may be more severe in infants and young children, and may include fever andhives.
The best way to avoid a cold is to avoid close contact with existing sufferers; to wash hands thoroughlyand regularly; and to avoid touching the mouth and face. Anti-bacterial soaps have no effect on thecold virus; it is the mechanical action of hand washing with the soap that removes the virus particles.In 2002, theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention recommended alcohol-based hand gels as an
effective method for reducing infectious viruses on the hands of health care workers. As with handwashing with soap and water, alcohol gels provide no residual protection from re-infection.The common cold is caused by a large variety of viruses, which mutate quite frequently duringreproduction, resulting in constantly changing virus strains. Thus, successfulimmunizationis highlyimprobable.
Exposure to cold weather
Although common colds are seasonal, with more occurring during winter, experiments so far havefailed to produce evidence that short-term exposure to cold weather or direct chilling increasessusceptibility to infection, implying that the seasonal variation is instead due to a change in behaviorssuch as increased time spent indoors at close proximity to others.With respect to the causation of cold-like
, researchers at the Common Cold Centre at theCardiff Universityconducted a study to "test the hypothesis that acute cooling of the feet causes theonset of common cold symptoms." The study measured the subjects' self-reported cold symptoms, and belief they had a cold, but not whether an actual respiratory infection developed. It found that asignificantly greater number of those subjects chilled developed cold symptoms 4 or 5 days after thechilling. It concludes that the onset of common cold
can be caused by acute chilling of thefeet. Some possible explanations were suggested for the symptoms, such as placebo, or constriction of blood vessels, however "further studies are needed to determine the relationship of symptomgeneration to any respiratory infection."
As there is no medically proven and accepted medication directly targeting the causative agent, there isno cure for the common cold. Treatment is limited to symptomatic supportive options, maximizing thecomfort of the patient, and limiting complications and harmfulsequelae.The common cold is self-limiting, and the host'simmune systemeffectively deals with the infection.Within a few days, the body'shumoral immune response begins producing specificantibodies that can
prevent the virus from infecting cells. Additionally, as part of the cell-mediated immune response,leukocytesdestroy the virus through phagocytosisand destroy infected cells to prevent further viral
replication. In healthy, immunocompetent individuals, the common cold resolves in seven days onaverage.