The common cold is one of the most annoying illnesses to strike a person. Unfortunately, it is transmitted by both aerial and person-to-person contact, so the chances of contracting it are quite high. The probability of contracting a cold also goes up if those already suffering from it are not careful about their personal hygiene – a used tissue lying around and sneezing without covering the nose and mouth can spread the germs that cause the common cold.
It is difficult to exactly pinpoint common cold causes, though it may be said that colds are caused by a viral infection. There are as many as 200 different viruses that cause the common cold, but there are about three most common ones that strike a majority of people.
The commonest of these is the rhinovirus, which causes about 50% of colds. This virus causes the mildest form of cold, while the respiratory syncytial virus may occur in about 10% cases to alarming effect. It can causes a partial or total shutdown of the respiratory passages, causing asthma-like symptoms. The cold caused by it can also be notoriously difficult to treat, and it may last for at least a month with severe cough and blocked sinuses.
The common cold is transmitted from person to person via direct contact with contaminated materials such as used tissues or handkerchiefs, or by touching a surface that the infected person may have touched with his germs. A healthy person may touch a contaminated surface and then inadvertently touch his nose or mouth. The viral infection then attaches itself to the nasal cavity and begins to grow. The body tries to combat this virus by building a wall of protective mucus around it. This mucus is then gradually ejected via the nose while sneezing, or through the mouth while coughing.
However, even such conditions as a dip in the temperature or exposure to polluted air may cause a common cold. In the case of the former, the body reacts to the temperature difference more keenly if the person’s immunity is already low. Whereas the body reacts by developing mucus to trap unwanted foreign matter in the nasal cavity such as dust or other air pollutants. The pollutants are expelled via a runny nose – this makes the person feel that he or she has developed a cold. These types of cold are normally temporary and may disappear in a day.
Whatever the common cold cause, it is important to take adequate care of one’s surroundings. Disinfecting areas of contamination and washing the sufferer’s clothes and bedding separately are good measures.