One of the most typical pathologies of autumn and winter are common colds, also called colds. These are viral infections that affect the upper respiratory tract, that is, the nose and throat. There are many viruses that produce them and, in general, they are mild conditions that we all suffer from 2 or 3 times a year.
At this time they are more common since the humidity of the environment increases and there are sudden changes in temperature, cold mornings, and hot afternoons. Heat in the houses and cold in the street …
The symptoms are well known: congestion, sore throat, sneezing, mucus … And its duration is around 1 or 2 weeks.
This atypical year, marked by the coronavirus epidemic, having these catarrhal symptoms can cause headaches by confusing this pathology with Covid-19.
Although it will always be necessary to go to the family doctor to rule out a SARS-COV2 infection, otolaryngologists give us seven guidelines to try to avoid the viruses that cause the common cold.
• The first one is already a more than usual gesture for 8 months: hand washing. If it can be with soap and water, better. This gesture not only prevents a coronavirus infection but also prevents more than 200 pathologies that can be spread through the hands, such as influenza A, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, whooping cough, or the common cold.
• It is important to always use tissues to cover your mouth when sneezing. In this way, we will prevent the spread of germs. And, as we have learned this year, avoid touching your face as much as possible, since both the nose and the mouth are the perfect entry points for viruses into our body.
• Another common element between the prevention of Covid-19 and the common cold is avoiding closed spaces, where the possibility of contagion is greater. The best, the open air and well-ventilated places. Of course, always well protected from the cold.
• A natural vitamin D booster doesn’t hurt. Whenever possible, it is convenient to expose yourself to the sun to recharge yourself with vitamin D. As in autumn and winter the days are shorter, you can look for this vitamin in foods such as oily fish, mushrooms, or cheese.
• Reducing stress levels also helps protect us from this type of mild viral infection. The more tension and stress, the lower the defenses, and the weaker the immune system. So, you have to get enough sleep and regular physical exercise to control stress.
• It is very important not to self-medicate, specifically, to avoid taking antibiotics without a prescription. They do not serve to combat viral infections and their improper use causes the body to become resistant to their action.
• Finally, we must avoid alcohol and tobacco because they weaken the immune system. Also, smoking can aggravate the symptoms of the common cold.
In the event that we finally suffer from a common cold, otolaryngologists remind us that there is no effective vaccine or treatment that eliminates the virus that causes it. We can only use painkillers to relieve symptoms.