THE DOCTORS 101 CHRONIC SYMPTOMS & CONDITIONS #33: The Common Cold’

The common cold is one of the most frequent of human diseases, and causes billions of dollars in lost work yearly. I haven’t heard of many cases of colds or flu recently, in the Era of Covid.

Distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing prevents colds too. The common cold spreads by AEROSOL transmission, and autoinnoculation into the nose from contaminated surfaces, just like Covid.

By far the most common cause of the Common Cold is the RHINOVIRUS, of which there are 100 serotypes. Coronaviruses, Influenza, Parainfluenza, RSV and enteroviruses also produce cold-like symptoms. The large number of viruses causing the Common cold makes developing an effective vaccine difficult.

Adults eventually encounter most of the serotypes prevalent in their community, and don’t catch many colds. However, when adults travel, they experience a new, unfamiliar group of viruses endemic to their destination. How often do we take a trip and come back with a Cold, or worse. We lack immunity to the microorganisms we have not yet encountered, just like children.

When I was in pediatric allergy practice, I feared nothing so much as the cold temperatures in October. The kids would come back to school, and start getting colds, averaging 7-8 per year. It is commonly thought by researchers that cold symptoms are not produced so much by viral damage to the respiratory membranes, as by the body’s immune response to those viruses.

My experience confirms that opinion. A cold was a worry for my patients. Rhinovirus infection often triggered a severe ashmatic response, sometimes sending the children to the ER if not the Hospital ICU.

It was the allergic reaction to the virus that caused the severe wheezing. After the epidemic of Covid subsides, and becomes endemic, don’t give up all of your newly-acquired habits. Hand-washing, distancing, and even masks prevent other respiratory disease transmission too.

–Dr. C.

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