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The common cold is a contagious viral infection of the upper respiratory tract (nose and throat).

It is self-limiting, meaning that it clears up by itself without the need for special medical treatment. The disease got its name in the sixteenth century, when English doctors noticed that colds are more frequent in northern countries during the winter months and thought that exposure to low temperatures caused colds. It was not until the eighteenth century that Benjamin Franklin suggested that cold weather by itself does not cause colds but helps them to spread by driving people indoors where they are crowded more closely together. Although viruses had not been discovered by Franklin’s day, he was correct in thinking that colds are transmitted from one person to another through the air or by direct contact. The common cold is one of the most widespread infectious diseases in the world. It is caused by about 200 different viruses belonging to at least eight different families of viruses. For most people, the classic symptoms of a cold are an irritated nose or scratchy throat within eight hours to two days after infection, followed quickly by a runny nose and sneezing. Although many people experience headaches, general tiredness, and loss of appetite as well, the main symptoms of a cold are in the nose. A person can get a cold by inhaling the virus directly if they are sitting close to an infected person who is sneezing or coughing. They can also get a cold by touching their eyes, nose, or mouth after touching an object or surface contaminated by the virus. Research indicates that cold viruses can live on skin for as long as two hours and on drinking glasses or other hard surfaces for as long as four days. People with colds are most likely to spread the virus to others during the first two to three days of infection. After that they are much less contagious. No exact statistics are kept on the number of colds each year in the United States or in any other country because the illness is so common and many people take care of their symptoms at home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that people in the United States suffer about 1 billion colds every year; children lose between 22 and 189 million school days in an average year, and their parents lose 126 million work days to stay home and take care of them. Other employees miss an average of 150 million work days every year because of colds. The total impact of colds on the American economy comes to an estimated $20 billion per year. Colds are equally common in people of all races and ethnic groups. Some studies indicate that boys younger than three are more likely than girls to get colds in day care settings; however, in older children and adults, males and females are equally likely to get colds. In terms of age, children get colds more frequently than adults. Children average three to eight colds every year, and parents frequently get colds from their children. Colds become less frequent in later life, however; on average, people over sixty have less than one cold a year. Colds are more common in North America during the fall and winter months, when children are in school and adults are spending more time indoors. In tropical climates, colds are most common during the rainy season, as humid conditions increase the viruses’ survival time outside the human body.

Nursing Care Plan Signs and Symptoms
The common cold is caused by at least 200 viruses that had been identified as of 2008. A cold virus typically enters the body through the nasal passages or mouth, but can also enter through the mucous membranes covering the eyes. The virus spreads to the tissues lining the area between the nose and the back of the throat, where it rapidly multiplies. Within hours or a day or two after the virus enters the body, the infected person feels a scratchy sensation at the back of the throat,

see their doctor if they have any of the following symptoms. or are extremely fatigued. prescribe antibiotics if the patient has developed a sinus infection caused by bacteria. Although many people ask their doctors for antibiotics to treat a cold. The doctor will.8°C] or lower) • Muscle aches • Headache • Loss of the senses of taste and smell • Loss of appetite • Sore throat Children are often sicker than adults when they get a cold because their immune systems are less developed. .9°C) with a cold. • They have severe pain in the sinuses. Nursing Care Plan Treatment There is no cure for the common cold. overprescribing of antibiotics is a major factor in the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In fact. however. Children. people may also have: • Low-grade fever (101°F [38. The sidebar lists some common home and over-the-counter remedies that ease the symptoms of a cold. however. Researchers think that these symptoms are caused by the body’s immune response to the virus rather than by tissue damage caused by the virus. they may also develop an ear or sinus infection following a cold. They should. • The patient has a fever of 102°F (38. particularly if they know they have recently been exposed to someone else with a cold. Nursing Care Plan Diagnosis For most people. it is important to know that antibiotics are not effective against viruses. sneezing. however. Children with asthma may have an attack triggered by a cold. Treatment is aimed at relieving the sneezing and other symptoms until the body’s immune system clears the virus. In addition to the runny nose. • They have severely swollen glands. • They are coughing up thick mucus. Children may run a fever as high as 102°F (38. the diagnosis of a cold is obvious from its symptoms.followed by sneezing and a constant flow of runny mucus from the nose. Most people do not need to see a doctor to be diagnosed with a cold. and coughing associated with the common cold. Nursing Care Plan Prognosis Most people recover from a cold in seven to eleven days with no longterm complications. which may indicate an allergy or a more serious illness: • The symptoms last longer than two weeks. may develop earaches following a cold.9°C) or higher. • They are having chills or night sweats.

cups. If symptoms don't improve. let alone be approved for use. • Wash the hands frequently. signs and symptoms tend to vary greatly. sneezing and congestion — or maybe all of the above. One such drug is being tested in an oral form while a second drug is being developed that would be applied as a nasal spray. Another reason is that these viruses mutate (change their DNA) very rapidly. Preschool children are at greatest risk of frequent colds. thus any vaccine that might be developed would be outdated by the time it entered clinical trials. however. • Avoid touching the mouth and face after being exposed to someone with a cold. One reason is the sheer number of viruses known to cause colds. Use disposable paper cups when sick to protect other family members.Nursing Care Plan Prevention There is no vaccine effective against colds. but even healthy adults can expect to have a few colds each year. Definition By Mayo Clinic staff The common cold is a viral infection of your upper respiratory tract — your nose and throat. although it may not feel that way. can lower a person’s risk of getting frequent colds: • Stay away from people with colds whenever possible. The Future Several drug companies are working on antiviral drugs that might help people recover from colds more rapidly. see your doctor. A common cold is usually harmless. The development of an effective vaccine against colds is considered unlikely. • Keep kitchen and bathroom countertops and other surfaces clean. In fact. or food utensils. Symptoms By Mayo Clinic staff . sore throat and cough. • Wash children’s toys after play. • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. is that they would work only against cold viruses belonging to one of the eight groups known to cause the common cold. because any one of more than 100 viruses can cause a common cold. If it's not a runny nose. however. Most people recover from a common cold in about a week or two. it's the watery eyes. • Do not share drinking glasses. One limitation of these drugs. The following precautions.

9 C) or higher in children ages 6 weeks to 2 years Fever of 100 F (37. Your child doesn't need to see the doctor for a routine common cold.4 C) or higher Fever accompanied by sweating. such as urinating less often than usual Not drinking adequate fluids Fever that lasts more than three days Vomiting or abdominal pain Unusual sleepiness Severe headache Stiff neck Difficulty breathing Persistent crying Ear pain Persistent cough If symptoms in a child or an adult last longer than 10 days. Signs and symptoms of a common cold may include: • • • • • • • • • Runny or stuffy nose Itchy or sore throat Cough Congestion Slight body aches or a mild headache Sneezing Watery eyes Low-grade fever Mild fatigue The discharge from your nose may become thicker and yellow or green in color as a common cold runs its course.8 C) in newborns up to 6 weeks Signs of dehydration. children are sicker with a common cold than adults are and often develop complications. such as ear infections.Symptoms of a common cold usually appear about one to three days after exposure to a coldcausing virus. When to see a doctor For adults — seek medical attention if you have: • • • • Fever of 103 F (39.4 C) or higher in children age 2 or older Fever of 102 F (38. You're also unlikely to experience significant fatigue from a common cold. call your doctor. chills and a cough with colored phlegm Significantly swollen glands Severe sinus pain For children — in general. What makes a cold different from other viral infections is that you generally won't have a high fever. But seek medical attention right away if your child has any of the following signs or symptoms: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Fever of 103 F (39. .

But it also spreads by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by using shared objects. such as utensils. But an immature immune system isn't the only thing that makes kids vulnerable. Time of year. A cold virus enters your body through your mouth or nose. a green or yellow discharge from the nose or the return of a fever following a common cold. In places where there is no winter season. Both children and adults are more susceptible to colds in fall and winter. nose or mouth after such contact or exposure. All of these factors increase your risk of a cold.Causes By Mayo Clinic staff Although more than 100 viruses can cause a common cold. . in some cases. However. If you touch your eyes. colds are more frequent in the rainy season. towels. and most people are spending a lot of time indoors. Children who are too young to verbalize their distress may simply cry or sleep restlessly. Complications By Mayo Clinic staff • • Acute ear infection (otitis media). Typical signs and symptoms include earaches and. The virus can spread through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs. sneezes or talks. you develop immunity to many of the viruses that cause common colds. the rhinovirus is the most common culprit. But the following factors can increase your chances of getting a cold: • • • Age. Ear infection occurs when bacteria or viruses infiltrate the space behind the eardrum. Risk factors By Mayo Clinic staff Cold viruses are almost always present in the environment. You'll have colds less frequently than you did as a child. It's a frequent complication of common colds in children. toys or telephones. Wheezing. Ear pulling is not a reliable sign. As you age. Immunity. That's because children are in school. Infants and preschool children are especially susceptible to common colds because they haven't yet developed resistance to most of the viruses that cause them. you're likely to "catch" a cold. A cold can trigger wheezing in children with asthma. and it's highly contagious. you can still come down with a cold when you are exposed to cold viruses or have a weakened immune system. They also tend to spend lots of time with other children and frequently aren't careful about washing their hands and covering their mouth and nose when they cough and sneeze. Colds in newborns can be problematic if they interfere with nursing or breathing through the nose.

Over-thecounter (OTC) cold preparations won't cure a common cold or make it go away any sooner. decongestant or pain reliever. In June 2008. Adults shouldn't use decongestant drops or sprays for more than a few days because prolonged use can cause chronic rebound inflammation of mucous membranes. and be especially careful when giving acetaminophen to older babies and children because the dosing guidelines can be confusing. In the meantime. Treatments and drugs By Mayo Clinic staff There's no cure for the common cold. These include strep throat (streptococcal pharyngitis). pneumonia. and many companies have stopped manufacturing these products for young children. FDA experts are studying the safety of cough and cold medicines for children older than age 2. In adults or children. the infant-drop formulation is much more concentrated than the syrup commonly used in older children. • • Pain relievers. For instance. Don't give your child two medicines with the same active ingredient. If you give cough or cold medicines to an older child. others) or other mild pain relievers. the Consumer Healthcare Products Association voluntarily modified consumer product labels on OTC cough and cold medicines to state "do not use" in children under 4 years of age. and they may cause side effects. These infections need to be treated by a doctor. such as an antihistamine. remember that cough and cold medicines won't make a cold go away any sooner — and side effects are still possible. It has been associated with Reye's syndrome — a rare but potentially fatal illness. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommend against giving OTC cough and cold medicines to children younger than age 2. Here's a look at the pros and cons of some common cold remedies. Keep in mind that acetaminophen can cause liver damage. Never give aspirin to children. These medications also have potential side effects. Don't give acetaminophen to children under 3 months of age. Antibiotics are of no use against cold viruses. including rapid heart rate and convulsions. bronchitis in adults. sore throat and headache. . Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines don't effectively treat the underlying cause of a child's cold. and most have side effects. carefully follow the label directions. and croup or bronchiolitis in children. especially if taken frequently or in larger than recommended doses. Other secondary infections. There's little evidence that they work in young children. many people turn to acetaminophen (Tylenol. For fever. • Cough syrups. And children shouldn't use decongestant drops or sprays at all.• • Sinusitis. Decongestant nasal sprays. and won't cure a child's cold or make it go away any sooner. Too much of a single ingredient could lead to an accidental overdose. a common cold that doesn't resolve may lead to sinusitis — inflammation and infection of the sinuses.

then gently suctioning that nostril with a bulb syringe (push the bulb in about 1/4 to 1/2 inch. The conclusion comes . but you can make yourself as comfortable as possible. Water. Generations of parents have spooned chicken soup into their sick children's mouths. This will give you a chance to rest as well as reduce the chances that you'll infect others. try saline nasal drops. First. You can buy these drops over-the-counter. it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that help the body's response to inflammation. These tips may help: • • • • • • Drink lots of fluids. Doing this before feeding your baby can improve your child's ability to nurse or take a bottle. Adjust your room's temperature and humidity. Try chicken soup. which can cause dehydration. or about 6 to 12 millimeters). Get some rest. even for children. experts recommend instilling several saline drops into one nostril. and before bedtime it may improve sleep. Use saline nasal drops. which can aggravate your symptoms.2 milliliters to 2. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. juice. Now scientists have put chicken soup to the test. Soothe your throat. If the air is dry. Wear a mask when you have a cold if you live or work with someone with a chronic disease or compromised immune system. A saltwater gargle — 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1. helping relieve congestion and limiting the time viruses are in contact with the nasal lining. A comprehensive analysis of clinical-trial data on zinc and colds concluded that zinc actually appears to be beneficial. In infants. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds. clear broth or warm lemon water are all good choices. or are drowsy after the medications. Alternative medicine By Mayo Clinic staff Various herbs and supplements are popular for preventing or relieving colds. but scientific support is uneven for most. Here's an update on some popular choices: • Zinc. and cigarette smoke. To help relieve nasal congestion. If possible.5 milliliters) salt dissolved in an 8-ounce (237 milliliters) glass of warm water — can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat. safe and nonirritating. stay home from work if you have a fever or a bad cough. Keep your room warm. and they're effective. Second. They help replace fluids lost during mucus production or fever. but not overheated. it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus through the nose. a cool-mist humidifier or vaporizer can moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing. discovering that it does seem to help relieve cold and flu symptoms in two ways.Lifestyle and home remedies By Mayo Clinic staff You may not be able to cure your common cold. Saline nasal sprays may be used in older children.

Zinc lozenges can leave a bad taste in your mouth. not included in the recent. and then wash your hands carefully.• • with a few caveats. Vitamin C. Zinc-based nasal sprays. Use your own glass or disposable cups when you or someone else is sick. pose a different problem. Others show a significant reduction in the severity and duration of cold symptoms when taken in the early stages of a cold. Steer clear of colds. dose or duration of zinc treatment for colds. The FDA warns that these products can take away your sense of smell. Look for a child care setting with good hygiene practices and clear policies about keeping sick children at home. Research on the role of echinacea in treating the common cold is ongoing. using echinacea supplements is unlikely to cause harm. Keep kitchen and bathroom countertops clean. and teach your children the importance of hand washing. Discard used tissues right away. which can be caused by many different viruses. That way they cover their mouths without using their hands. One reason study results have been inconclusive may be that the type of echinacea plant and preparation used from one study to the next have varied considerably. Scrub your stuff. Always sneeze and cough into tissues. and some trial participants reported nausea as a side effect of the lozenges. It appears that for the most part taking vitamin C won't help the average person prevent colds. Studies on the effectiveness of echinacea at preventing or shortening colds are mixed. Echinacea. But you can take some common-sense precautions to slow the spread of cold viruses: • • • • • • Wash your hands. positive analysis. Teach children to sneeze or cough into the bend of their elbow when they don't have a tissue. Prevention By Mayo Clinic staff No vaccine has been developed for the common cold. Don't share drinking glasses or utensils with other family members. Choose your child care center wisely. Avoid close. In the meantime. Some studies show no benefit. especially when someone in your family has a common cold. Don't share. Researchers haven't determined the most effective formulation. Use tissues. Clean your hands thoroughly and often. prolonged contact with anyone who has a cold. . possibly for good. taking vitamin C at the onset of cold symptoms may shorten the duration of symptoms. However. Wash children's toys periodically. Label the cup or glass with the name of the person with the cold. if your immune system is healthy and you are not taking prescription medications.