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The common cold can be cause by over 200 viruses. Not wearing a hat or getting caught in the rain will not cause a cold. Viruses cause colds. The symptoms of a cold can include a runny nose, red eyes, sneezing, sore throat, dry cough, headache and general body aches. After exposure to a cold virus there will be a two to three days before you start to see symptoms. As your cold progresses your nasal mucus will thicken. Your cold may last one to two weeks.

Colds can occur anytime. They are more common in late winter and early spring. Children average about six colds a year. Adults have two or three a year. Remember viruses are much smaller than our cells. Viruses are organisms that only contain genetic material. To reproduce, viruses invade cells in your body and changes how our cells work. The cold virus can spread through droplets in the air when someone that is in close contact with someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks. Colds can also spreads from hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by sharing contaminated objects, such as utensils, towels, toys or telephones.

There is no cure for the common cold. No matter what your mother, grandmother of sister has told you there is no cure for the common cold yet. Don’t confuse the treating symptoms for a cure. Antibiotic will not cure a cold. There are a lot of thing to treat the symptom. Some work other just work your wallet.

If your cold last longer than two week it can lead to a more serious bacterial infection. These infections include bronchitis and pneumonia. Getting rest, balancing your diet and reducing your stress can help prevent some complications.

There is no way to prevent cold 100%. There are some things you can do to reduce your risk.

• Maintain a balance diet.

• Get enough sleep

• Exercise for 30 minutes everyday

• Keep your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes.

• Wash your hands often.

• Stop smoking

• Disinfect your house. Wash children’s toys periodically.

• Stay away from sick people.

If you feel a cold coming start working on it.

• Reduce your stress after school or work.

• Drink non-caffeinated liquids.

• Get extra rest.

• Take some to relieve aches.

• Put some moisture in your house.

• Gargle to help prevent a sore throat.

• Avoid over the counter remedies that combine drugs such as decongestants, antihistamines and pain relievers to treat many different symptoms. Treat each symptom separately.

• Avoid antihistamines unless recommended by your doctor.

• Treat your stuffy nose to improve mucus drainage.

• Only use decongestants for three days or less. Prolong use can cause your mucous membrane to swell up more.

You should see your doctor if your cold doesn’t go away in one to two weeks or it gets worse. If you develop any of the following symptoms you should see your doctor:

• Develop a fever of 104 or higher that doesn’t go away after over the counter treatment in a couple of hours.

• Develop a fever of 101 with shaking, chills and a productive cough. A productive cough is a cough that produces mucus.

• Have a persistent fever.

• 102 or higher for two days.

• 101 or higher for three days.

• 100 or higher for four days.

• Labored, shallow or rapid breathing with shortness of breath.

• Coughing up mucus that is yellow, green, rust colored or blooded.

• Develop facial pain.

• Nasal discharge that changes from clear to yellow or green.

• A cough that last longer than 7 to 10 days.

• Wheezing.

• Lack of appetite.

Don’t take any cough lightly. All coughs can hurt your lungs. Coughing caused by a cold is your body’s way of removing mucus from your lungs. Coughs are usually productive or nonproductive. Productive coughs produce mucus or phlegm coming from your lungs. This type of cough should generally not be suppressed. The mucus has to be removed from your lungs. Nonproductive coughs are dry coughs that don’t produce phlegm or mucus. If any cough last longer than 7 to 10 days you should call your doctor. Call your doctor if the cough doesn’t go away.

To help reduce injury to your lungs:

• Drink non-caffeinated liquids.

• Use cough drops.

• Use an over the counter cough suppressant containing dextromethorphan.

• Stop smoking.

• Stay away from strong odors.

• Elevate your head night to ease a dry cough.

Fevers are not normal. A fever is an abnormal high body temperature. Most adults can handle a temperature as high as 103 to 104 for a short period of time with no ill affects. Every home should have a working thermometer. You should learn to read it before an emergency develops.

If you develop a low-grade fever you should:

• Drink non-caffeinated liquids.

• Record your temperature every two hours to know if your temperature is not moving after taking an over the counter medication.

• Watch for signs of dehydration.

• Get more rest.

• Stop smoking everything.

You should seek medical attention if:

• If your fever is over 104 and doesn’t go away in a couple of hours.

• If your fever is over 102 and doesn’t go away in 12 to 24 hours.

• If you think you have the flu.

• Have a fever and a stiff neck.

• Painful or burning during urination.

• Pain over your eyes or cheekbone.

• Have a fever and have shortness of breath.

• Have a fever and dry skin.

• Have a fever and abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting.

I’m always asked if drinking milk causes you to have more phlegm and if chicken soup will help my cold. According to the “Mayo Clinic, “drinking milk may make phlegm thicker and more irritating to your throat than it would normally be, milk doesn’t cause your body to make more phlegm. In fact, frozen dairy products can soothe a sore throat and provide calories when you otherwise may not eat.” The Mayo Clinic commented on chicken soup by saying “chicken soup may help you feel better. Warm liquids, such as chicken soup, tea or warm apple juice, help speed up the movement of mucus through the nose. This relieves congestion and limits the amount of time viruses are in contact with the lining of your nose. Plus, soup and other liquids help prevent dehydration.”

If you have a fitness question or concern you would like addressed write to: “Tips to be Fit,” P.O. Box 53443, Philadelphia, PA 19105 or tipstobefit@gmail.com. If you’ve missed an article of “Tips to be Fit” just search “Tips to be Fit.”

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