Table of contents:
- Difference between flu and cold
- How to relieve symptoms
- How the treatment is done
- When to go to the doctor
Cold symptoms usually appear 1 to 3 days after infection with a common virus, such as rhinovirus, which is transmitted by inhaling airborne droplets of nasal secretions containing the virus, which are spread when an infected person sneezes, coughs or blows their nose, for example.
Colds are more common at cold times of the year, since during this period it is common for people to stay longer indoors and with little air circulation, which favors the transmission of the virus.
The main symptoms of the common cold are:
- Nose running with watery and transparent secretion;
- Nasal congestion;
- Catar with a greenish-yellow tinge;
- Sore throat;
- Body pain;
- Mild headache;
- Low fever;
- Feeling generally unwell.
Typically these symptoms appear gradually and last about 7 to 10 days, but they can last longer in people who smoke. However, if there is no improvement in symptoms or the person has a fever higher than 38.5ºC, a doctor should be consulted.
Difference between flu and cold
The main difference between the flu and the cold is the intensity of the symptoms, which in the flu are more intense and include high fever, which can last a few days. In the case of a cold, the symptoms are more subtle and easier to treat. Understand better how to differentiate flu from cold.
How to relieve symptoms
Cold symptoms can usually be easily treated at home with a few simple measures such as:
1. Drink plenty of water
Keeping the body hydrated is essential to help fight the common cold virus, as well as helping to fluidize nasal secretions and facilitate their elimination, improving the discomfort of a runny or stuffy nose. Therefore, you should drink plenty of water, at least 8 glasses a day, or juices, teas, soups or warm water with lemon.
Also, it is important to avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee or black tea, and alcoholic beverages, as they can cause dehydration.
Rest is important to help the immune system fight the virus, which allows a person to recover from a cold faster, and also helps to reduce the chances of passing the virus on to others.
Also, it is advised not to go to work or school, and to rest at home if you have a fever, a bad cough, or if you become drowsy.
3. Using a humidifier
Using a humidifier or vaporizer helps increase air humidity and relieve nasal congestion and coughing. Another simple way to increase the humidity in the environment is to put a bucket of water in the room or bedroom where the person with a cold is.
4. Gargle with warm s alt water
Gargling with warm s alt water helps to relieve the discomfort of a sore throat and clear the phlegm stuck in the throat. In addition, s alt helps kill bacteria that can infect the throat, acting as a natural antiseptic.
To gargle with warm water and s alt, simply add half a teaspoon of s alt to half a glass of warm water, gargle for a few seconds and then spit out the water.
5. Rinse the nose with saline
Washing the nose with saline helps relieve nasal congestion, eliminating the secretions that make the nose clogged and runny, as well as preventing the development of sinusitis. Another option is to use saline solutions which can help relieve symptoms, even in children, being advised in the case of babies to gently suck the secretion from the nostrils with a bulb syringe after applying the saline solution.
Watch the video with the nurse Manuel Reis on how to wash your nose with saline:
How the treatment is done
Cold symptoms usually improve within a few days, without the need for any specific drug treatment.
However, your doctor may recommend drug treatment to help relieve cold symptoms and discomfort:
- Analgesics or anti-inflammatories, such as paracetamol, dipyrone or ibuprofen, in cases of fever, sore throat, headache or body pain;
- Nose decongestant spray, to relieve nasal congestion, can be used by adults for a maximum of 5 days;
- Expectorant syrup, such as ambroxol or guaifenesin, to facilitate the elimination of nasal secretions;
- Mucolytic syrup, such as acetylcysteine or bromhexine, to make nasal secretions more liquid, facilitating their elimination;
- Antihistamines, such as loratadine or desloratadine, to open the nasal passages and help relieve congestion and sneezing.
In addition, it is important to increase the body's defenses, as it is possible for the immune system to fight the virus more effectively. Thus, to strengthen immunity and treat the cold, it is recommended to increase the consumption of foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, pineapples, strawberries and acerola, for example.
Watch the video with nutritionist Tatiana Zanin with food tips to increase immunity and help fight the cold:
When to go to the doctor
Although it is not necessary to go to the doctor to cure the common cold, it is advisable to consult a general practitioner for adults or pediatrician for children when presenting:
- Fever greater than 38.5ºC or lasting 5 days or more or returning after a fever-free period in adults;
- Fever of 38ºC in newborns up to 12 weeks;
- Fever that increases in intensity or lasts for more than two days in children of any age;
- Worsening of symptoms;
- Shortness of breath;
- Pheasant breathing;
- Severe sore throat;
- Pain in the sinuses.
Furthermore, children who have extreme confusion, unusual sleepiness, or lack of appetite need to be evaluated by a pediatrician to initiate the most appropriate treatment.