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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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    Anju Mobin

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

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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