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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 September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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