Special Populations

The Common Cold

The Common Cold

The common cold (acute viral nasopharyngitis) is a group of symptoms in the upper respiratory tract, caused by more than 200 viruses. The most common virus is the rhinovirus, which enters the body through the mouth or nose. This usually happens by touching a surface contaminated with a cold virus and then touching your nose or mouth. You can also catch a cold by encountering secretions in the air, caused by a sneeze.

A cold begins when a cold virus attaches to the lining of the nose or throat. The immune system triggers the release of white blood cells to help destroy the virus. This causes one of the first cold symptoms, inflamed nose or throat. The second most common symptom, fatigue, is caused by the body’s constant effort to rid itself of the cold virus.

The common cold can negatively affect ones fitness regimen. The common cold can lead to acute bronchitis, bronchiolitis, croup (load cough), pneumonia, sinusitis, or strep throat. Individuals with asthma and COPD are especially vulnerable. Colds may cause acute exacerbations of asthma, emphysema or chronic bronchitis.

The best way to avoid catching a cold is to frequently wash your hands. Good nutrition is essential for resisting and recovering from a cold. Drinking plenty of water to help flush the system of toxins is essential. Avoid tea and coffee, as they possess diuretic properties. Also, avoid milk because it triggers the release of histamine, the primary chemical that contributes to nasal congestion and runny nose. Avoid alcoholic drinks, as they can cause dehydration. Alcohol also depletes vitamin C, and puts excess strain on the liver. Avoid high-fat, indigestible foods such as red meat and cheese. Consider taking vitamin supplements, to help ensure you are receiving the recommended dietary allowances for vitamin A, the vitamin B complex (vitamins Bl, B2, B3, B6, folic acid), vitamin C, zinc and copper.

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