COUGH & COLDS

A cough and a sneeze is a defensive reflex of the body that functions to keep the airways clear of irritating or obstructing substances so that breathing and the intake of oxygen is effective. It occurs in a wide variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions.

DEFINITION
A cough is the body’s way of responding when something irritates your throat or airways. An irritant stimulates nerves that send a message to your brain. The brain then tells muscles in your chest and abdomen to push air out of your lungs to force out the irritant. A cold is a mild viral infection of the nose, throat, sinuses and upper airways.
It’s very common and usually clears up on its own within a week or two.

The main symptoms of a cold include:
• a sore throat
• a blocked or runny nose
• sneezing
• a cough

CAUSES
Common acute causes —
1. Common Cold
2. Influenza (flu)
3. Inhaling an irritant
4. Strained or pulled abdominal muscle
5. Whooping Cough

Common chronic causes —
1. Allergies
2. Asthma (most common in children)
3. Bronchitis
4. GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)

SYMPTOMS
Other than the cough and cold, other associated symptoms can be:
• Sore throat
• Nasal congestion
• Slight body aches
• Mild headache
• Sneezing
• Low-grade fever
• Watery or mucoid nasal discharge

DIAGNOSIS
Most people with a common cold can be diagnosed by their signs and symptoms. If your doctor suspects
you have a bacterial infection or other condition, he or she may order a chest X-ray or other tests to exclude other causes of your symptoms. The distinction between Upper and Lower Respiratory Tract Infections is also important.

When to see a doctor
For adults — seek medical attention if you have:
• Fever greater than 38.5 C (101.3 F)
• Fever lasting five days or more or returning after a fever-free period
• Shortness of breath
• Wheezing
• Severe sore throat, headache or sinus pain

For children — in general, your child doesn’t need to see the doctor for a common cold. But seek medical attention right away if your child has any of the following:
• Fever of 38 C (100.4 F) in newborns up to 12 weeks
• Rising fever or fever lasting more than two days in a child of any age
• Symptoms that worsen or fail to improve
• Severe symptoms, such as headache or cough
• Wheezing
• Ear pain
• Extreme fussiness
• Unusual drowsiness
• Lack of appetite

TREATMENTS
Supportive care includes:
• Nasal decongestants – to unclog a stuffy nose
• Cough suppressants – to quiet a cough
• Expectorants – to loosen mucus so you can cough it out
• Antihistamines – to stop runny noses and sneezing
• Pain Relievers – to ease fever, headaches, and minor aches and pains

HOME CARE
Gargle with saline solution which helps remove irritants in the throat and thins the mucus.
Use vaporubs – its ingredients such as menthol, camphor and eucalyptus may have a role in relieving congestion.
Drink warm liquids to sooth the inflammation in the throat.
Take turmeric and ginger remedies.

PREVENTION
• Do proper hand washing
• Use of face masks if anyone around is sick
• Boost your immune system:
– Exercise regularly
– Have enough sleep
– Take Probiotics
~ Vitamins including Zinc
~ Herbal products

References: • http://www.nhs.uk • http://www.rightdiagnosis.com • http://www.mayoclinic.org • https://medlineplus.gov