By Sonja Koukel, PhD Extension Community & Environmental Specialist
When a cold hits, the most common symptoms experienced are a sore throat, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches and body aches. Common colds are the main reason that children miss school and adults miss work. Each year in the U.S., millions of people get the common cold. Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more.
Quiz: How much do you know about the common cold? Respond to these True/False questions.
The correct answers are provided following the quiz.
1. Antibiotics will help you recover from a cold.
2. Rhinoviruses are the most common causes of colds.
3. Colds are never serious for anyone.
4. Colds are most common in the winter and spring.
5. You can get a cold from someone by shaking their hand.
1. F - Antibiotics do not work against viruses, and they may make it harder for your body to fight future bacterial infections if you take them unnecessarily. To feel better when you have a cold, you should get lots of rest and drink plenty of water.
2. T – Many different viruses can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common. Rhinoviruses can also trigger asthma attacks and have been linked to sinus and ear infections. Other viruses that can cause colds include:
· respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – a virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age in the U.S. and a significant cause of respiratory illness in older adults.
· human parainfluenza viruses (HPIVs) – a group of viruses that cause different types of respiratory infections and are most common in children and babies. Most HPIVs usually cause infections of the upper airway, such as a common cold, ear infections, or sore throat.
· human metapneumovirus (hMPVO) – a common virus that has been responsible for respiratory illnesses for at least 50 years worldwide.
3. F – See a doctor if you or your child has any of the following symptoms: temperature higher than 100.4 F, symptoms that last more than 10 days, symptoms that are severe or unusual. If your child is younger than three months of age and has a fever, it’s important to call your doctor right away. Most people recover from colds within about 7-10 days. However, people with weakened immune systems, asthma, or conditions that affect the lungs and breathing passages may develop serious illness, such as pneumonia.
4. T- Most people get colds in the winter and spring, but it is possible to get a cold any time of the year.
5. T – Viruses that cause colds can spread from infected people to others through the air and close personal contact. This can happen when you shake hands with someone who has a cold after they have sneezed or coughed into their hands, or touch a doorknob that has viruses on it, then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose.
Protect yourself and others. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Viruses that cause colds can survive on your hands, and regular handwashing can help protect you from getting sick.