People in the US suffer from over a billion colds every year, the common condition that brings about a sore throat, runny nose, coughing and sneezing. Adults usually have two to four colds each year, while children have six to ten. Colds are especially widespread during the colder months from September until March, because the viruses that cause colds thrive in low humidity.
There are over 200 different viruses that can cause symptoms of the common cold. The infection usually lasts for a week or two and cannot be cured. Getting some rest and drinking plenty of fluids can help relieve cold symptoms. You can take precautions to prevent getting or passing a cold by washing your hands, keeping your hands away from eyes and nose and avoiding close contact with people that have a cold. While the cold is not serious, it is unpleasant and can often cause missed days of work or school. Talk to your doctor to find out more about how to prevent the common cold.
A cough is a reaction to an airway irritation. It is generally the symptom of an illness or allergy. Some coughs are considered productive, which means they help to remove mucus from the lungs usually due to respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Others are considered nonproductive, and these are dry coughs that typically occur in response to exposure to an irritant such as smoke or because of a common cold. Coughs may also be brought on by persistent problems including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or gastroesophageal reflux disease. The type of treatment for a cough will vary depending on its cause. Most coughs respond well to the use of a humidifier and increased fluid intake.
Sore throat is an uncomfortable condition that often causes pain upon swallowing. Sore throats are usually the result of either viral infections, such as the common cold and flu, or bacterial infections, such as strep throat. In other cases, allergies, irritants such as chemicals or smoke, or very dry air may be responsible. Most sore throats will resolve within a few days with adequate rest, fluids and use of over-the-counter pain relievers as needed. If strep throat is the cause, antibiotics are necessary. You should visit your doctor if the sore throat lasts longer than a week, you have difficulty breathing, have a fever of 100.5 degrees F or higher, develop a rash or exhibit symptoms of dehydration.
Immunization from certain diseases can be achieved through vaccination shots, which use small amounts of killed or weakened microorganisms that cause the diseases.
Some of the vaccines recommended include:
- Hepatitis B
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine
- Measles, mumps, rubella
- Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis
- Hepatitis A
Talk to your doctor to find out more about immunizations.
If you are planning international travel, there are certain preventative measures you need to take. Vaccinations to protect you from diseases common in other countries can keep you healthy and happy while on your trip. These are not routine immunizations you would have received from your primary care physician, so it's essential to see a specialist like Dr. St. Claire, who has expertise about exactly what precautions are necessary for the specific locale you will be visiting.
Contact our office to learn more about the Common Cold or to make an appointment.