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March 20, 2018  |  Login
Common Cold
by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.

Colds are caused by any of more than two hundred viruses that infect the upper respiratory tract. Colds are spread through the air, such as by sneezing or coughing, or by contact with a contaminated object. In response to an invasion by a cold virus, the membranes that line the nose and the throat become swollen and start producing additional mucus. The result is congestion, sneezing, coughing, sore throat, and a general feeling of malaise-all of which are your body's way of expelling the virus and getting you to slow down and rest. Although colds can come on at any time of the year, they are most common during late fall and winter. They especially target people whose immune systems are depressed, whether from overwork, preexisting disorders, or a lack of good nutrition and exercise.

The best treatment for a cold is to stimulate your body's natural defenses as soon as the familiar symptoms first appear. Once the virus firmly establishes itself in your system, you can use natural therapies that have direct antiviral activity, as well as stimulate your immune system to eradicate the virus. Most colds last three to ten days. Do not take over-the-counter medications. These cold symptoms are your immune system's attempts to flush out the virus, so medications that suppress them can actually prolong your cold or cause a recurrence.

Colds can be difficult to distinguish from the flu. For adults, the presence of body aches and a fever usually indicates the flu, although a low-grade fever can sometimes exist alongside a cold. Children, on the other hand, may experience fevers as a normal part of a cold. For more information about the flu, see the flu page. If your cold symptoms persist, or if they are accompanied by yellow or green mucus, call your doctor. You may have allergies or a different infection, such as sinusitis.

For adults, more than two colds a year may be an indication of underlying toxicity in the body. Some researchers feel that the body uses the cold virus as a way of detoxifying itself through mucus elimination and reduced appetite. In many cases, this could certainly be true. Also, a weakened immune system due to poor lifestyle habits and nutritional deficiencies could be at the root of reoccurring colds.

Next: What are the Symptoms of the Common Cold

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