About Dr Anand Kumar

Dr. Anand Kumar (M.Sc, PhD) is a Senior Project Manager at Ceutics Pharma, Hyderabad. He specializes in Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and Endocrinology, and has close to nine years of experience. Dr. Kumar also has six research publications to his name.

The Common Cold Virus – Some Basics About The Infection

The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. The rhinovirus, followed by the corona virus and the respiratory syncytial virus, is responsible for most cases of the common cold. Any virus that causes the common cold is generally referred to as the common cold virus. Common colds are hardly fatal, but they are irritating and troublesome  nevertheless and do require the patient to take some rest.

common cold virus

The common cold virus spreads through the aerosols of nasal fluids.

There are nearly 200 different types of viruses that are known to cause common cold. The symptoms of the condition can vary from person to person and usually depend upon the type of causative virus. For this reason, the rapid detection of the specific virus causing the infection is required to make optimal use of antiviral agents for common cold treatment.

The Transmission Of The Common Cold Virus

The inflammatory mechanism of the common cold is an example of the complexity of the virus-host relation. The common cold is an air borne infection. It spreads when the common cold virus is transmitted through the aerosols of nasal fluids. In some cases, especially when the infection is caused by the respiratory syncytial virus, the transmission of the virus is also caused through contact with contaminated surfaces.

Rhinoviruses can often survive for 18 hours on contaminated surfaces. When a person comes in contact with these surfaces, the infection is immediately transmitted to him. A rhino virus infection is highly transmissible during its first three days. People may just carry the virus and transmit it to others without experiencing any of the symptoms themselves.

The host’s immune response to the common cold virus is the basic reason for the symptoms observed during a common cold infection. The entry of the viral particles into the human body is known to trigger inflammatory mediators that produce the common cold symptoms.

The Body’s Response To The Common Cold Virus

The symptoms begin when the viral particles are attached to the epithelial linings of the upper respiratory tract. The subsequent inflammatory response then results in the secretion of lot of mucus in the upper respiratory tract.This fluid dilutes the common cold virus and expels it from the nose. The inflammatory reaction also expels the virus by irritating the nasal sensory cells and causing sneezing. If the virus penetrates the upper respiratory tract further, coughing also occurs in order to get rid of the virus.

cold virus

Antiviral agents, fluids, and rest are the best ways to counter the attack of the cold virus.

Sometimes this acute viral infection may spread to the lower respiratory tract and cause secondary infections in the eyes and middle ears. If the host’s defenses increase, the clear fluid transforms into a thick fluid that is filled with the debris of dead cells and is yellow-green in color.

While the common cold usually lasts for about five to seven days, the postnasal discharge and the cough may continue to exist for a period of two weeks or more. As so much of the body’s energy is directed at fighting the virus, the host feels tired and miserable.

In most cases, a common cold is diagnosed by observing the patient’s medical history and generating cultures for the common cold virus. This condition is rather annoying than harmful, and the best way to fight it is to use antiviral agents, drink lots of fluids, and get plenty of rest.

Common Cold Treatment – Quick Measures For Temporary Relief

Although the common cold is an ordinary illness that occurs quite frequently, common cold symptoms cause a lot of discomfort. There are no specific medicinal remedies to cure the common cold. Common cold treatment is restricted to simple measures that provide temporary relief and occasionally shorten the duration of the cold.

common cold treatment

As part of common cold treatment, anti-histamines are often prescribed to counter a runny nose.

Physicians often face questions about the best ways to treat acute upper respiratory tract infections caused by the common cold virus. Individuals with this infection often resort to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for temporary relief, without paying attention to the safety and efficacy of such medication. The infection occurs due to the common cold causes.

Medicines For Common Cold Treatment

Over-the-counter cold and cough medicines may help ease the symptoms of the common cold in adults and older children. Although they do not show immediate improvement in the condition, they do help reduce discomfort in the patient. Such medicines are not recommended for children under the age of six and in their case, consulting a physician is highly recommended.

The usage of antibiotics and antiviral drugs for treating the common cold is not effective. If you have a common cold that shows no signs of abating even after two weeks, consult your physician.

You can get some relief from this condition by taking some of the following measures.

Common Cold Treatment – Tips For Temporary Relief

  • Drink at least 3-4 litres of water. This helps in keeping the nose and the throat moist. Avoid coffee, carbonated drinks, and alcohol consumption.
  • Use a vaporizer to maintain the humidity levels in the room at around 50-60%, particularly during winters.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Gargle with warm water containing a teaspoon of salt to get relief from a sore throat. Repeat this at least 4 times a day.
  • Take hot showers to clear out your nasal passages.
  • Pop a zinc lozenge.
  • Try an anti-histamines to stop a runny nose.
treatment of common cold.

Drinking hot fluids like tea and chicken soup is recommended for the treatment of common cold.

Try this yogic technique to prevent nasal dryness. Get a neti pot and fill it with saline water. Insert the pot into one nostril and tilt your head to one side to allow the solution to flow up the nasal passage and flow out through the other nostril.

Consume foods like oranges, strawberries, papayas, and melons, as they are rich in vitamin C, which helps reduce the duration and severity of the common cold symptoms.

Drink hot fluids such as tea or chicken soup, to relieve nasal congestion. Try black or green teas, as these are loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants.

Garlic is known for its legendary germ-fighting abilities. Consume fresh garlic to reduce the soreness of your throat and clear out a blocked nose.

There are no definitive medicines for common cold treatment. This condition usually subsides in 7-10 days. The best way to face a cold is to take in plenty of water and hot fluids, and rest up as much as you can.

Common Cold Causes – The Reasons Behind The Infection

The common cold is a viral, air-borne infection caused by a virus called the Rhinovirus, which is one of the main common cold causes.

Common Cold Causes – How The Viral Infection Occurs

When you catch a cold, the common cold symptoms usually occur due to your body’s inflammatory response to the viral infection.

Viral particles enter your body through the air or when you come in contact with a person who is already infected. These particles then attach themselves to the epithelial layers of your upper respiratory tract. In response, your body’s defense mechanism secretes substances called cytokines and causes an inflammation.

common cold causes

A dip in the temperature is the most prominent of all common cold causes.

Also, the epithelial lining of your upper respiratory tract secretes a lot of thin liquid called mucus, as part of a mechanism to throw the viral particles out. The irritation of the nasal membrane in response to the inflammatory cytokines causes you to sneeze, and this expels more viral particles.

Apart from the Rhinovirus, other important viruses that cause a cold include the AdenovirusCoronavirusHuman Parainfluenza virusHuman Respiratory Syncytial virus, Enterovirus, and the Metapneumovirus.

Common Cold Causes – What Triggers The Infection

Common cold got its name from its frequent occurrence in the cold weather that prevails during the winter and monsoon seasons. But there is no scientific literature to support this occurrence.

Quite a few viruses that cause the common cold appear frequently during cold weather, and as a result of this, the occurrence of this condition increases during these seasons.

The transmission of viruses is further increased in humid weather, because such weather ensures that the virus-carrying droplets are easily dispersed and stay in the air longer.

Interesting Discoveries About Common Cold Causes

A few studies state that psychological stress often increases susceptibility to the common cold, as it suppresses the resistance of people towards infections.

When stress exceeds your ability to withstand the cold, a psychological stress response is triggered, altering your immune function and increasing your susceptibility to the common cold and other infections.

In a certain clinical study, it was noted that psychological stress increased the rate of infection, in turn raising the risk of acute infectious respiratory illness.

This means that the when you get a common cold, your body’s capacity for resistance varies with your stress levels and not with your differential exposure to the viruses that cause the infection.

Primary common cold causes such as stress, lack of sleep, and malnutrition affect the body’s immune system (defense mechanism), and increase an individual’s susceptibility to the infection. It is important to maintain a stress-free lifestyle with adequate sleep and nutrition to counter and prevent this condition. Regular checkups and common cold treatment advised by your physician can also help.

Common Cold Symptoms – How To Know If You’re Infected

Common cold refers to the viral infections of the upper respiratory tract, including nasopharyngitis and rhinopharyngitis. Common cold symptoms include a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat, nasal congestion, cough, headache, fatigue, and fever. The infection generally resolves in around 7 to 10 days.

common cold symptoms

Among the many common cold symptoms, a runny nose is usually one of the first visible signs.

Common Cold Symptoms And What Triggers Them

The common cold virus causes one of the most commonly encountered infections in humans. Children are affected at least 5 to 7 times a year, and adults, 2 to 3 times a year. The infection can spread widely among children through schools and day care centers. Parents often acquire the infection from their children.

Although you could get a cold at any time of the year, you are more susceptible to the infection during winter and monsoon. When you have caught a cold, you are contagious during the first week, especially the first three days.

Of all the viruses that cause the common cold, the Rhinovirus is the most common. Common cold symptoms vary with the kind of virus that causes the infection, and they can also vary from individual to individual. Even today, 25% of all colds are backed by unproven causes.

Common Cold Symptoms To Watch Out For

The most common symptoms of this infection include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Tears in the eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Swollen sinuses
  • Mild to high fever
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Impaired senses of smell and taste

When you catch a cold, you are likely to experience a sore throat for the first couple of days. By the third day, symptoms like runny nose and nasal congestion start manifesting. By the fifth day, you might develop a cough, and occasionally you might develop mild to high fever, although this is more common in children than adults.

As the days progress, the watery nasal secretions become thicker and darker, resembling a bacterial infection. Generally, common colds last for a week. If your condition does not improve after a week’s time, it could indicate a bacterial infection that needs treatment with antibiotics. Consult a doctor immediately in such cases.

How To Diagnose The Common Cold Infection

The common cold is generally defined as a nasal inflammation, and may be associated with the inflammation of the throat. You can usually diagnose the condition yourself. However, you can get some tests done to rule out the possibility of other infections that have symptoms similar to that of the common cold.

What Does The Physician Test?

When you consult a physician for a common cold, he will:

  • Consider your health history
  • Perform a physical examination, often getting the diagnosis right based solely on the visible symptoms
  • If required, perform throat culture and a sensitivity test, an influenza test, a test for the complete blood count, and a chest X-ray

The common cold usually lasts for a week. As common cold symptoms are ambiguous, they may overlap with those of more severe illnesses. The infection also depends upon the age of the person experiencing the symptoms. If the infection lasts for more than a week, consult a physician at the earliest to receive a common cold treatment.

The Need For A Healthy Pregnancy Diet – All About Maternal Undernutrition

A healthy pregnancy diet is vital because nutrition is the major intrauterine environmental factor that alters the expression of the fetal genome and may have lifelong consequences.

Maternal malnutrition is associated with low birth weight, increased perinatal morbidity, and even mortality. It increases the child’s risk of developing chronic diseases such as hypertension, insulin resistance, type-2-diabetes, and other cardiovascular and neurological diseases.

healthy pregnancy diet

A healthy pregnancy diet can influence the overall development of the fetus

The Role Of A Healthy Pregnancy Diet In Fetal Growth

Diet and nutrition are important factors in the promotion and maintenance of good health throughout the entire life course.

However, many people in the developing world, particularly women and children, continue to suffer from undernutrition, the adverse health effects of which are frequently compounded by deficiencies in micronutrients, particularly iodine, iron, zinc, vitamin A, folic acid, and vitamin B12.

Determining one’s nutrient needs during pregnancy is complicated because nutrient levels in tissues and fluids that are available for evaluation and interpretation are normally altered by hormone-induced changes in the metabolism, shifts in plasma volume, changes in renal function, and the patterns of urinary excretion.

Generally, the daily requirements of macro (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids) and micro (minerals, vitamins) nutrients are easily met in women who follow a balanced and healthy pregnancy diet that provides the recommended daily allowance of all nutrients.

How A Healthy Pregnancy Diet Affects Fetal Programming

The conditions in the maternal womb have a programming effect on fetal physiology. In simpler terms, this means that the overall development of the fetus is closely tied to the conditions that the fetus is exposed to in the womb.

The fetal programming hypothesis proposes that chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and type-2-diabetes originate through adaptations that the fetus makes when it is undernourished.

In response to an adverse intrauterine environment, the fetus adapts its physiological development to maximize its immediate chances for survival. These adaptations may be vascular, metabolic or endocrine. They permanently change the function and the structure of the fetus’ body in adult life.

There is substantial epidemiological evidence that the nutritional and hormonal environment experienced by the fetus can determine its degree of risk as an adult.

This association appears to be independent of classic lifestyle risk factors such as smoking, obesity, social class, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise, which are additive to the effect. Indeed, evidence from both human and animal studies suggests that diseases that primarily occur during adult life are induced by the fetal environment.

For this reason, following a healthy pregnancy diet that takes care of the nutritional needs of the fetus is one of easiest ways to ensure that the child’s overall development as an adult is secured.

Why Inadequate Nutrition Poses A Long Term Risk

Epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence. These genetic changes may remain through cell divisions for the remainder of the cell’s life and may also last for multiple generations.

Two mechanisms mediating epigenetic effects are DNA methylation and histone modification (acetylation and methylation). There is growing evidence that maternal nutritional status can alter the epigenetic state of the fetal genome and imprint gene expression. Epigenetic alterations in early embryos may be carried forward to subsequent developmental stages.

This means that by not following a diet that’s packed with nutrients, you’ll be placing your further generations at risk and not just your child.

As all such studies point out, maternal nutrition during pregnancy is an important determinant for fetal growth. With a healthy pregnancy diet, you’ll be able to prevent low birth weight, rapid neonatal growth, and adult diseases like cardiovascular conditions in the child.