What causes the common cold?
Viruses such as picornavirus (which includes the rhinovirus), coronavirus, parainfluenza virus, adenovirus, enterovirus and others are primarily responsible for the common cold. As the seasons change viral infections become more common especially between September and April. During this period the conditions of low humidity as well as the fact that people spend more time indoors makes it ideal for the viruses to thrive and spread.
What are the symptoms of the common cold?
Symptoms of the common cold usually stay for 1 or 2 weeks. Symptoms are more severe in infants and children and include runny nose, sneezing, cough, sore throat, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue. Fever, body aches and fatigues are generally associated with influenza or the flu.
How can the common cold be prevented?
The common cold is extremely contagious and spreads through the air or through contact. The best way to avoid catching a cold is to wash hands frequently especially after touching door handles and other spots that people tend to use often. Avoid touching the face, nose and mouth. It has been found that the actual action of rubbing the hands with soap and water is most effective in getting rid of virus particles.
It is also important to build up the body's immune system to withstand viral infections.
The common cold can lead to complications such as bronchitis, sinusitis, strep throat, croup and pneumonia
Ayurvedic remedies to build immunity
The ayurvedic approach to preventing illnesses is by building up the immune system and toning the body to withstand viral attacks.
- Every morning make a drink consisting of a cup of warm water mixed with the juice of half a lemon and a spoonful of honey.
- Amla fruit is known to have a very high vitamin C content and regular use builds up the body's immunity. Amalaki capsules or Triphala capsules taken daily rejuvenate and build up the body's defences against illnesses and infections. Another well known ayurvedic herb for respiratory comfort is Vasaka
- Chyawanprash is the best known ayurvedic remedy to build immunity. Made of a 5000 year old formula this remedy contains over 40 herbs in an amla base. A tablespoon everyday helps maintain optimum health especially during the winter months
- If your throat is irritated, take a spoonful of honey every night. It has been found that honey has the same properties as dextromethorphan - the chemical ingredient found in cough medicines to suppress cough. While coughing is the body's natural mechanism to remove phlegm, taking honey at night helps to provide relief and allow a restful night's sleep
- Make a warm tea by adding ginger, crushed cardamom, crushed black pepper, cinnamon powder and sugar. Boil and strain the mixture. This drink will instantly help to open nasal passages, relieve sinus pressure and soothe the throat.
- Gargle with warm water every day.
- Use a neti pot to drain and moisten nasal passages
- Inhale warm vapors by adding a tablespoon of carom seeds in a pot and allowing the water to steam. Put a towel over your head while inhaling.
- Applying a small amount of amrutanjan to the forehead and nose will instantly give relief when you have an occasional blocked nose or your head feels heavy.
- Avoid cold dairy products such as yogurt and ice cream
- Avoid fans blowing at your face
- Take warm showers. The vapors will moisten nasal and throat passages.
- Drink plenty of warm water and herbal teas