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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.

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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.

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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]

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  • 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.

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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

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    Last Updated on November 11, 2019

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

    Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

    To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

    Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

    1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

    Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

    Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

    To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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    2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

    Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

    If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

    Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

    3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

    Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

    Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

    4. Feed Your Brain

    Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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    This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

    Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

    Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

    5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

    According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

    Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

    Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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    6. Write it Down

    If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

    It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

    You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

    7. Listen to Music

    Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

    8. Visual Concepts

    In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

    Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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    Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

    9. Teach Someone Else

    Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

    Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

    10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

    Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

    So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

    Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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