This post was written by Elizabeth Barnes, examined by Prof. Lorna Johnson & Dr. Kelechi Onuoha, and edited by Lani Sodunke.
Most of us have come down with a common cold on at least several occasions. Whether we easily identify its symptoms or not, a common cold can affect our day’s performance and energy.
In an endemic malaria region such as Nigeria, it’s only normal for individuals to believe that symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, body aches or a slight fever are definitely due to malaria. This makes antimalarials the go-to for many, especially because they can be easily gotten from the neighborhood pharmacy.
Are antibiotics necessary for dealing with the common cold?
It is not unusual for patients to request antibiotics from their pharmacists when they have such symptoms, believing that these symptoms must be due to bacterial infection. However, using antibiotics when unrecommended can result in resistance. This implies that these antibiotics will fail to work when needed to handle an actual bacterial infection.
Viruses and not bacteria cause common cold, and this is why taking antibiotics are unnecessary when getting treated. Also, these viruses can be easily transmitted, especially by those who are infected.
Common Colds and Malaria
You might be wondering how to tell the difference between a bout of malaria and the common cold. It’s more common for malaria to come with a loss of appetite, severe fever, and headaches; but the standard way to confirm malaria is by taking a laboratory test.
Are common colds contagious?
Yes, common colds are contagious, meaning they can be easily transmitted from an infected person to an healthy individual. This happens when someone with cold coughs or sneezes, and the particles get into a healthy person either through the mouth, nose, or direct contact (handshake). It could also be picked up from unclean areas or from a sick person’s fluids or droplets.
Common cold can be transmitted even when the sick person is yet to show symptoms, which explains why people who have a cold are advised to stay home. This is why social distancing was highly advised during the pandemic.
Why some people come down with colds
Most of us are exposed to these viruses regularly but might not get a common cold. People who come down with a cold usually do so about 1 to 3 days after exposure, and this is depended on some reasons such as:
- The strength of the immune system
- How often they get exposed to viruses
- How the virus gets into the body
Treating the common cold
The common cold is a self-limiting infection. It basically runs its course in a couple of days with the help of the immune system. On average, the cold wears off with constant hydration, rest and food after a few days. However, your physician is not out of place to prescribe some meds to deal with specific symptoms. Some of the ways to treat common cold include:
Analgesics: This carries out a dual role of easing pains and fever and is one of the most common medicines used by people with a cold. A typical example is the paracetamol which is sold over the counter (without prescriptions) in pharmacies.
Nasal Decongestant: This is needed to deal with blocked nostrils. It can be in the form of oral tablets or nasal drops, or sprays. Some over the counter cold medicines have analgesics like paracetamol and a nasal decongestant combined. Do well to ask your pharmacist, so you don’t take such while including paracetamol.
Vitamins: Eating foods rich in vitamins with super high antioxidants would significantly bolster your body’s defenses and boost your immune system.
Fighting a cold does not have to be difficult. While you can buy many over the counter medications for colds, it is recommended to consult a doctor as soon as possible.