Question: How many different viruses can cause the common cold?
Answer: Over 200 according to Johns Hopkins Medicine
The average adult gets between two and four colds a year with each one lasting an average of a week; therefore I would like you to prepare yourself for an uncomfortable fact – for over 5% of your time on earth you are likely to be suffering from a bad cold!
Having just recovered from a particular bad one I thought I would do some research that might help me to understand how colds work and how best to tackle them. You might like to share my “20 Common Cold Facts” with your children in hopes that knowledge is power:
- Colds are caused by many different viruses – most notably coronaviruses and rhinoviruses
- Antibiotics kill bacteria but they don’t kill viruses. Any amount of antibiotics will not cure a cold
- At the height of a cold your body contains many more viruses than there are people on the Earth
- Whereas adults get an average of 2 to 4 colds a year, young children often endure twice as many
- As children get older they develop an immunity to some viruses and subsequently get fewer bad colds
- In medical circles a cold is usually known as a URI (Upper Respiratory Infection)
- The most common symptoms of a cold are runny nose, nasal obstruction, sneezing, sore throat, cough and hoarseness combined with mild symptoms of chilliness and headache.
- Colds and Influenza both exhibit similar symptoms. It is more likely to be ‘flu if you have a fever and feel exhausted.
- The symptoms are not caused by the virus itself but by your body’s response to the infection
- There is very little evidence to suggest that dosing with Vitamin C will deter bad colds but there IS evidence to suggest that moderate drinkers are less likely to catch a cold
- The most likely ways to catch a cold are from coughs and sneezes from an infected person or touching surfaces that have been contaminated by infected people.
- The best way to avoid catching colds is to wash your hands very frequently and to avoid touching your nose, lips and eyes. Why not try our KS2 quiz on Hygiene?
- A single sneeze can release 100,000 germs into the air – try to stay at least 6 feet away from anyone suffering from a cold
- It takes between 24 and 72 hours from the time that you “catch” a cold to the time that you develop the first symptoms
- About 25% of the time when you are infected by a common cold virus you will suffer no adverse symptoms
- Paracetamol and ibuprofen can be taken to reduce fever or discomfort. Aspirin may also help but it should never be given to children under the age of 16
- There is little or no evidence to suggest that antihistamines, cough medicines or complementary and alternative medicine (like Echinacea) help ease the symptoms
- To help recover quickly you should drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest and eat healthily
- You can’t give your dog a bad cold but you can possibly give your cat one
- For 43 years, starting in 1946, scientists at the Common Cold Research Unit expected they would be able to develop a cure but then concluded that it was impossible and gave up!