Cold – Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Home Remedies

Common cold which is in simple terms called Cold is a disease caused by virus mainly affecting the upper respiratory tract with its main targets being the nose, sinuses, through and even larynx. There are different ways you can know that you are having a cold like having a runny nose, nonstop sneezing as well as scratchy throat. However, people see common cold as a mystery since it affects people differently. When exposed to the same conditions to another person you may get cold while that person remains very healthy and this mainly depends on the strength of your immune system. Cold is caused by a virus with the most common virus being rhinovirus which is responsible for more than 50% of all colds. Other than the rhinovirus other common viruses that cause colds, influenza, syncytial virus, and even parainfluenza.

Types of cold

There are three different types of cold. These are:

  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinusitis

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of cold are straightforward, One can know they have a cold without even visiting a doctor. If you detect body changes with any of the following symptoms then cold is catching up with you:

  • Sore throat – Sore through will be among the first signs of cold. It is very common in the early stages of cold and other viral infections.
  • Cough and sneezing – Coughing and sneezing is a mechanism by your body which it uses to try to remove anything that tries to damage its airway such as pollen, dust and even virus.
  • Runny nose – Another sign is the presence of mucus building up in your nose. In this case, the mucus starts when it’s watery and thin but becomes thicker as the cold progresses.
  • Headache – Headache is mainly caused by the building up of mucus since it clogs the infected person’s sinuses, therefore, creating pressure which then leads to a throbbing headache.
  • Tired and weak – Feeling weak and tired is another symptom associated with most virus attacks. When your body is under attack you will not be in your usual energy since the virus will try to weaken your defense system and therefore you will remain weak and feel tired.


Cold is caused by many viruses but the most common virus is the rhinoviruses since its responsible for more than 50% of all common cold cases. As mentioned above other common viruses are influenza, syncytial virus, and even parainfluenza.

The cold virus attacks the body through nose, mouth and even eyes. The virus is spread in form of droplets when a person coughs, talks or even sneezes. It’s therefore mainly spread through the air. This cold virus can also be spread through contact with someone who is sick. The spread is through the sharing of objects like towels, utensils and even toys. After the contact with such items and then touch your nose, mouth or even eyes then you will have a high chance of getting cold.

What Age of People Get Infected?

Cold affect people of all ages. Cold is more severe to children below the age two and also dangerous to the elderly above the age of 65 years. However, people with a weak immune system can also have a problem-fighting cold because the body does not have enough defence. If a kid or an elderly person has a fever which lasts more than 3 days then you need to consult a doctor.

Risk Factors

Here are some of the factors that increase the chances of you getting cold:

  • Weak immune system – Having a weak immune system will increase the chances of getting cold
  • Age – Children under the age of 5 years have a higher risk of getting cold especially when they are exposed.
  • Smoking – Smokers have a higher risk of catching a cold than people who do not smoke
  • Time of the year – In certain times of the year like winter both children and adults are more exposed to cold
  • Exposure – If you stay around people who are sick like in schools you have a higher chance of being exposed


In general, if you are healthy then you do not need a doctor to diagnose cold. A healthy immune system fights the cold infection and clears it within 7 days without a doctor. For a severe or persistent cold, you need proper diagnose which in most cases starts with a physical exam as well as medical history. During the diagnosis, you will be asked questions about the symptoms and how long you have experienced them. The doctor is also likely to check your through, ears, lings and even sinuses. In severe cases, a doctor is likely to do a chest x-ray to check whether there are serious complications like pneumonia.

Some lab tests can also be conducted to detect the type of virus because cold is caused by different types of virus. When the diagnosis is on a child below 2 years the doctor is likely to order viral tests. Viral teat also applies to people who have a weak immune system as well as those who are elderly.

Types of Doctors To Consult

A common cold may not be very serious to require a specialist for it. In cases of kids, you are advised to visit a doctor if your child’s fever is above 100 degrees. Doctors like physicians, internists, and even paediatricians can all help in treating cold.

Home Remedies

Here are some recommended home remedies that you can use to cure and prevent cold:

  • Ginger tea – Ginger tea is very good in treating common cold. The beauty of ginger tea is that it dries running nose which is basically the first step to stopping cold.
  • Mixture of honey, Cinnamon, and lemon – This is another very effective home remedy that you can use to cure cold. The mixture is very natural and good for the body too.
  • Luke-warm water – Luke-warm water is very good in reducing inflammation in the throat and therefore reducing cold.
  • Gargle with salt-water – This may look old school but it’s very effective in eliminating cold

Foods To Take

Foods rich in Carotene such as beef liver, broccoli, carrots, kale, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, guava, beets, and even mangoes.

Vitamin E such as corn oil, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, lobster, almonds and cod-liver oil.

Foods having vitamin C such as cauliflower, broccoli, kale, orange juice, sweet potato, tomatoes, and strawberries.

Foods rich in Bioflavonoids is also good in helping you remain healthy. Research has revealed that Bioflavonoids have nutrients which are very good at busting the immune system.

Foods to Avoid 

  • Dairy goods – when have a cold avoid dairy goods because they help in the mucus production.
  • Juices – Experts have advised that people should avoid juices because of the high content of sugar. In addition, juices have an acid which can be very irritating to the throat.
  • Fried snacks and fast foods – Fried foods as well as fast foods have ingredients which do not have any nutritional value
  • Caffeine – Caffeine should not be taken during cold. This is because it dries cough and therefore can lead to breathing problems during such times.


There are different ways you can prevent catching and spread of cold. Come of them are explained below:

  • Disinfect your stuff – Ensure that you clean your bathroom and kitchen countertops with good disinfectants especially when a member of your family or even a friend has a cold. Ensure that your kids’ toys are washed periodically.
  • Wash your hands – Ensure that you clean your hands well with running water and teach your kids the importance of washing their hands
  • Use handkerchiefs – Every time you are sneezing ensure that you sneeze into handkerchiefs to deduce the chances of infecting other people.
  • Take care of yourself and family as well – Eating well, doing adequate exercises as well as having adequate sleep and managing your stress then you will manage to keep cold away.
  • Don’t share – Do not share glasses and other utensils with a person having cold to reduce its chances of spread.

Author: Oscar

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