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The Common Cold Essay, Research Paper

The common cold has been plaguing humankind

since the beginning of human existence. Even in

these advanced times, there is no vaccine or cure.

There are many symptoms that accompany the

common cold. Some of these infamous symptoms

are a runny nose, caused by inflammation of the

nasal tissues, resulting in over production of mucus

to trap the virus, and coughing. there are two

different kinds or types of coughs that are

common with colds. The first, is the less common

dry hacking cough, these kinds are more likely to

keep you up at night and just plainly annoy you

than do any thing else. The other more common

type of cough is the kind whose purpose is to

expel mucus and or phlegm. These help to combat

the cold by helping to expel the mucus that has the

virus trapped in it. Other symptoms include a slight

tingle or tickle in the back of the throat that usually

turns into a sore throat and sneezing. Both of these

symptoms are was for your body to help expel

phlegm or mucus from the body. Another

symptom is swelling of the face and or neck

usually accompanied by pain around the eyes,

nose, and forehead. This pain and swelling is

caused by the introduction of the virus into your

upper respiratory tract, therefore causing mucus

building up in your nasal passages and then in your

sinuses causing them both to become impacted.

Many people complain of hoarseness, aches and

pains in their joints, fever of about 101 degrees,

and general aches and pains all over their bodies

(Anthanasoid). There are at least two hundred

different kinds of viruses that are known to cause

what is known as the common cold, and an

unknown number of undiscovered causes (Nourse

56). The virus who is usually responsible for a

cold is called a rhinovirus, and it accounts for

around thirty to fifty percent of all colds that afflict

the adult part of the human population. The virus

that is secondly responsible for most common

colds, is called a coronavirus, and it is only

different form a rhinovirus by a margin of few

select proteins in it’s molecular structure. The

rhinovirus is so small that it can only be measured

in milimicrons, one milimicron is about

1/25,000,000 of an inch, that means that about

five hundred rhioviruses can fit on the point of a

pin. That fact makes the rhinovirus and the

coronavirus categorized in the medium territory.

The virus cannot reproduce by itself. In fact

scientists cannot even decide whether to classify it

as an animal or a plant, because it is so primitive.

To reproduce, the virus must first latch onto a

nearby cell and inject it’s genetic makeup into the

cell. It then tells the cell to make as many viruses

as it can, using the chemicals inside of the cell. The

cell keep producing viruses until the outer cell wall

explodes releasing all of the new viruses into the

bloodstream. The best part about many of the

viruses that cause colds is that they are self

limiting. That means that after the virus reproduces

so much it just stops and dies. In the case of

common colds, the virus runs it’s course in about

ten to fourteen days. Because it kills itself, the

infected person’s immune system doesn’t realy

have to do anything except maybe keep it in their

upper respiratory track. There have been

documented cases when a cold actually

inadvertently killed someone. In these rare cases,

the viral infection lead to a bacterial infection in the

middle ear and therefore lead to death. This is why

if your ears hurt, you should see a doctor

immediately (Knight 10-15, 23-25). There are

many misconceptions about the spread of the

common cold. For one thing, a person who

doesn’t cover their mouth when coughing and or

sneezing, is not necessarily spreading their cold

says John Poppy (104). Another article in the

"Mayo Clinic Health Letter" stated that coughing

and sneezing is one of the things that spreads the

cold virus the most. The reasoning behind that is,

the cough or sneeze spreads the viral particles all

around. Then people touch the spot that has one

of these particles on it with their hands and rub

their hands on their nose and mouth. This action

spreads the cold even further. This same article

said that kissing doesn’t necessarily spread the

cold virus (1-2). Laurie Tarkan says that the main

way that the cold virus is spread is through

touching of the nose and mouth, like the Mayo

Clinic Letter. She also stated that the reason that

colds seam to flourish in the winter is that people

tend to group together in schools and in homes,

therefor spreading the virus throughout the

population. Also more people tend to fly durring

the winter. In order to keep the cabin pressurized,

the airplane circulates the air, and that means that

if one person has a cold and coughs then the

whole plane will have a great chance to become

infected. Also at higher altitudes, the air seriously

dries out the nasal membrane in the nose and

therefore make a person more susceptible to the

virus. Because of this, experts like Laurie Tarkan

suggest to drink allot of water while flying in an

airplane, about eight ounces for every hour that

you are on the airplane (202, The Common Cold

2). There is only one possible way to stay totally

healthy during the winter. That is to be locked in a

room underground and not see anyone until the

cold season is over. Fortunately there are a few

guidelines that you can follow to help your chances

of staying well this winter. One is to wash your

hands often, not compulsively but often, and also

try to stay away from people who have realy bad

colds. If someone in your house or workplace gets

or has a cold, then it is suggested that you should

disinfect with "Lysol" or hydrogen peroxide often,

again not compulsively but often. Many people

believe that garlic can help to avoid a cold, but

studies on this subject have been shown to be

inconclusive, in most recent test anyhow (The

Common Cold 2). Even if you follow all of the

guidelines, you still might catch an occasional cold,

so, if you have a cold you there are a lot of things

you can do to lessen the power of the symptoms.

A cold usually last from ten to fourteen days. Dr..

Robert Anthanasoid say that consuming low

quantities of Vitamin C, about 250 Mg per day,

help to lessen the time or length of the cold. Some

people say that taking large doses of Vitamin C,

about two grams per day, helps to lessen the

duration of a cold (Childhood Infections). While

the "Mayo Health Clinic Letter" said that any

dosage of Vitamin C doesn’t help of hinder any

form of the common cold. Chicken soup, on the

other hand, is shown to reduce the severity of the

symptoms of the common cold. If you make

chicken soup for someone with a cold, Laurie

Tarken from "Good Housekeeping" suggests

"loading it up with garlic, onion, and heat. It is

thought that the reason for chicken soup works so

well is because of the chicken. It contains Cystine,

an amino acid, that thins mucus. The Cystine and

the steam off of the soup are what can clear up a

plugged nasal passage and make breathing a lot

easier (John Poppy 109). There is no cure for the

common cold because there are over 200 known

virus that cause what is know as the "common

cold," and there is no vaccine. There is no vaccine

because of the same reason, that there is no cure,

the sheer number of the known causes. Because

you can’t cure a cold you can only hide or stop the

symptoms. There are literally thousands of cold

"remedies" or "cures." Over one billion dollars are

spent on cold "remedies" in the U.S. today (The

Common Cold 1). There are many different over

the counter drugs that claim to stop colds. Some

of these are mixes, mainly ones that claim to do

everything, most of these "mixes" contain

antihistamines. Antihistamines don’t do anything for

a cold. The only they do is make you drowsy. The

most common antihistamine is chlorpheniramine.

Like antihistamines, Decongestants might make

you drowsy, but their real use is to unplug your

nasal and sinus passages. Decongestants that

reverse the swelling go the blood vessels in the

nose caused by viral infections according to Laurie

Tarkan of "Good Housekeeping" (201). Spray

Decongestants are the best, but can be come

addictive with over use. Doctors suggest using a

spray once in the morning and once at night. They

also suggest that you don’t use them for more than

three days, beacaue they can cause your throat to

burn. Decongestants in pill form can take from 45

minutes to an hour to start to work. Most

combination medications contain a decongestant.

Coughing is sometimes caused by irritated airway

and or an increase in post nasal drip. There are

two different types of cough medications. One is a

suppresant and the other is an expectortant. The

suppressant stops dry hackin coughs, and the

expectorant helps to bring up mucus or phlem.

Expectorants thin out the mucus in your throat by

using your bodily fluids. So if you are using an

expectorant, be sure to consume a lot of liquids.

Coedine, is a popular expectorant, but shouldn’t

be taken with sedatives or alcohol. "Vicks 44" is

useless for a cough because it contains both an

expectorant and a suppressant (Poppy 104).

Another name for a suppresant is antitussive. The

problem with these is that they might contain

narcotics that act directly on the brain, so be sure

to consult a doctor before taking any medications.

Some over-the-counter products that seem to

work as expectorants are Guaifenesin in

"Robitussin" or "Triminic". Cough drops of

lozenges work better than pills and usually taste a

lot better. Look for something with Mentholate in

it to soothe sore throat pain and coughs (Tarkan

202) Colds sometimes are accompanied by aches

and pains. Headaches are usually caused by the

compacting of the nasal passages and sinuses.

They only close off when a virus enters the upper

respiratory tract. This pain can usually be stopped

by taking ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin. It

is important to be careful when giving aspirin to

children, because it has been linked to Ray’s

syndrome. Ray’s syndrome is a potentially deadly

disease that sometimes occurs in children that are

infected with the flu, pneumonia, or chicken pox

(The Common Cold 1-3). Because there are so

many kinds of combinations many people tend to

become confused when bombarded with all of the

adds for cold medicines. Above all "Sudafed" and

"Tylenol Flu" are rated the highest for the relief of

the symptoms of the common cold according to

Laurie Tarkan of Good Housekeeping (212). She

strongly suggests that before taking any

medication, over the counter or not, you should

seek a doctor’s help in choosing a drug or a

combination of drugs. When shopping for a cold

remedy remember that there are less expensive

generic brands that contain the same drugs and

work just as well. If any symptoms change or

become worse than you think that they should be,

within reason, it is suggested that you seek a

doctor’ help. This is suggested because many

serious illnesses start out with cold-like symptoms

that become much worse. They might not be able

to cure the common cold ever, but there are now

drugs in the works that can help to ease the

symptoms and cause little or no side effects.

Overall, colds are not killers, most of the time, just

rather annoying to have. There are drugs that can

put a stop to all of the annoying symptoms, but the

main idea for "curing" a cold is to use a medical

practice aptly dubbed the "Tincture of Time." To

speed recovery, sleep as much as possible, and

eat very little.

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