Advertising
Advertising

How Long Does The Common Cold Last? When To Tell If It’s Normal Or Not?

How Long Does The Common Cold Last? When To Tell If It’s Normal Or Not?

The cold virus is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world. There are hundreds of viruses that can cause your cold symptoms.

Plagued by a running nose, sneezing and coughing, the common cold can leave you feeling tired and depressed. It may last just 3 to 4 days or it can hang around for anywhere from 10 days to two weeks.

Advertising

Symptoms of the common cold

A sore throat is usually the first symptom of the common cold and this usually vanishes after a couple of days. A runny nose and congestion develops next and they may be followed by a cough on the fourth or fifth day. Children are more likely to develop low-grade fever than the adults.

The initial nasal secretions may be watery, though this usually becomes thicker and darker later. This is a natural development and it does not mean that you have developed a bacterial infection.

Advertising

The first three days are the most contagious, so it’s best you stay home and take some much needed rest. If the symptoms improve within 5 to 7 days, you can be sure its just a common cold. But if even after a week, you still feel really unwell, it’s best to see a doctor and find out what exactly is plaguing you – it may be a flu, sinusitis, an allergy or even pneumonia.

How to distinguish whether you have caught a cold or an allergy

Sinus allergies can also cause sneezing, runny noses, congestion, cough and sinus pain. Since these symptoms are common to both the cold and allergies like hayfever, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. Tiredness, headaches, and difficulty in concentrating are some of the other common symptoms. High pollen counts can lead to dry coughs as well. Understanding the differences between the two can help you get the right  treatment for your condition. [1]

Advertising

  • Itchiness is one of the major distinguishing factors. Itchy watery eyes, throat, or even an itchy palate are hayfever symptoms that are rarely experienced when you are suffering from a cold.
  • The nasal discharge from an allergy tends to be clear, while for a cold, the mucus will be yellowish green.
  • With a cold, you often get a sore throat, while for hayfever it is mostly an itchy dry feeling in the throat.
  • The duration is usually what raises suspicion. A cold should not last more than 2 weeks, though a cough can take longer to recover.
  • Colds can occur any time of the year though they are more frequent during the cold winter season. Hay fever is triggered mostly during the spring and summer months. Allergic rhinitis can occur as long as the person is exposed to the allergen, such as dust mites, animal dander, and mold.

How to distinguish whether you’re having a cold or a flu

Colds and flus are both caused by viruses. But flu symptoms are usually much more severe. You need to watch out as a common complication of flu is pneumonia[2]

  • Cold symptoms tend to develop gradually throughout the week. Flu, on the other hand, comes on suddenly and you may feel worse within just a few hours
  • High fever is another indication, cold is generally accompanied by a low-grade or none at all.
  • Your muscles and joints will probably ache much more when you contact flu.
  • Though the chills and fever may subside in 3 to 5 days, you may feel weak and tired for a couple of weeks.

Advertising

cold_vs_flu
    Infographic Source

    Conclusion

    A cold is best treated at home with simple home remedies for symptom relief. Since they are caused by viruses and not bacteria, they cannot be treated with antibiotics. Taking antibiotics can make you feel slightly better as they have a mild anti-inflammatory effect, but this benefit gets negated as the medicine destroys the beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive tract. In fact, this may actually increase your chances of contracting an infection later which will be resistant to antibiotic treatment. [3]

    Then again, don’t take it too lightly either. Sinus, ear, and lung infections like bronchitis and pneumonia can be bacterial. Then you may need antibiotics for treatment. If you have a fever of over 102 degrees Fahrenheit, shortness of breath or a persistent uncontrollable cough, it is best to call your physician’s office.

    Featured photo credit: collegeofhairandbeauty.ie via collegeofhairandbeauty.ie

    Reference

    [1] http://www.avogel.co.uk/health/immune-system/common-cold/is-it-a-cold-or-hayfever/
    [2] http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/cold-guide/flu-cold-symptoms#3
    [3] http://drbenkim.com/cold-flu-difference-health.html

    More by this author

    Anju Mobin

    Anju is a Certified Nutritionist, and a Highly Experienced Health, Fitness and Nutrition Writer.

    The Polite Way to Reject Writing a Letter of Recommendation Nooch: The Ultimate Guide To This Vegan Yeast Shocking! Exercise Makes You More Attractive By Boosting Your Hormones Shocking! People With Skin Problems Are More Likely To Show Symptoms Of Gut Issues Exercises Prevents Colds By 41%, Study Finds

    Trending in Health

    1 How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life 2 15 Brain Foods That Will Super Boost Your Brain Power 3 13 Essential Self-Care Tips for Busy People 4 How to Reduce Mental Stress Quickly (And Naturally) 5 Overcome Fear and Anxiety with These 4 Mindset Shifts

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on March 25, 2020

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

    When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

    So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

    1. Exercise

    It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

    2. Drink in Moderation

    I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

    3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

    Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

    4. Watch Less Television

    A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

    Advertising

    Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

    5. Eat Less Red Meat

    Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

    If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

    6. Don’t Smoke

    This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

    7. Socialize

    Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

    8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

    Advertising

    9. Be Optimistic

    Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

    10. Own a Pet

    Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

    11. Drink Coffee

    Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

    12. Eat Less

    Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

    13. Meditate

    Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

    Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

    Advertising

    How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

    14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

    Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

    15. Laugh Often

    Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

    16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

    Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

    17. Cook Your Own Food

    When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

    Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

    Advertising

    18. Eat Mushrooms

    Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

    19. Floss

    Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

    20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

    Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

    Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

    21. Have Sex

    Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

    More Health Tips

    Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

    Reference

    [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
    [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
    [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
    [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
    [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
    [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
    [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
    [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
    [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
    [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
    [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
    [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
    [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
    [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
    [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

    Read Next