What Causes the Common Cold?

    • What Causes the Common Cold? A virus -- actually, about two hundred different viruses -- causes the common cold.
    • Contrary to popular belief, we seldom catch a cold from airborne particles expelled when someone with a cold coughs or sneezes or if we drink or eat something that they drank or ate from.
    • However, we easily pick up cold-causing viruses through hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or from objects (doorknobs, computer mouse, telephone) that have been contaminated with a cold virus. This shows you the importance of proper hand washing!
    • Most colds clear themselves up in about a week to ten days, but sometimes it can lead to pneumonia if you don't take care of yourself when you are sick or if your immune system isn't working well.
    • What A Virus Does - In Simple Terms Viruses act by infecting your body's healthy cells and using those cells' reproductive machinery to make more viruses -- (your DNA & RNA). At some point, the cells burst and die -- letting all the new little viruses loose to infect even more of your cells. (Now, impress your biology teacher with that information).
    • The destruction of cells lining the throat and respiratory tract causes the sore throat, cough, and runny nose characteristic of a cold. Fever, aches, and fatigue actually result from the body's immune response to the virus and not actually from the "cold" at all.
    • Treatment To feel better: REST, sip hot liquids -- such as chicken soup, or herbal tea, drink lots of water, and eat healthy foods. Call your health care provider if your fever gets over 101° F or if you start coughing up "gunk" that looks funky and is yellow or green.
    • Remember to wash your hands often & have family members do the same so you don't spread it to them! This can prevent them from catching your cold.