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Common cold  is a viral infection of the nose and throat and is the most common human ailment.  On an average, adults are infected 2-4 times a year and children (who have less developed immune systems) often get a cold more than 8 times a year. Colds usually last for 3 to 5 days but the cough caused by the cold can last for a few weeks.

There are hundreds of different types of  viruses and their mutations which can cause a common cold. The viruses are transmitted from an infected person to another person by droplets expelled through coughing or sneezing. The droplets containing the virus are usually directly inhaled. They are also transmitted indirectly by handshakes or contact with doorknobs and other objects touched by the infected person. When an uninfected person touches the area with droplets and then touches the nose or eyes, the viruses are introduced into the nasal passages.

Most of the people who are infected by the virus develop a cold, but only 75% of the infected persons develop symptoms. The symptoms of  a cold are usually a sore throat, obstruction of nasal passages and discharge of  mucus from the nose. These symptoms develop within two or  three days of infection. In children a mild fever may also develop. Cold viruses can only multiply when they are inside living bodies only.

The cold symptoms are a result of the reaction of  the human body's defense mechanism. Glands in the nose produce mucus to clean and moisturize the nasal membrane. When a person suffers from cold, the mucus production increases. After suffering from a common cold, the person becomes immune to virus for some time.

There is no medically proven cure for common cold. Treatment can only reduce the discomfort caused by cold. Drinking plenty of water and fluids, bed rest and gargling with hot water will reduce the suffering. Antibiotics are only effective for treating bacterial infections and  using them for treating colds could cause further infection.

Common cold can be prevented by reducing exposure to infected persons. Washing your hand with soap after you come in contact with people will also decrease chances of  infection. Also, you should avoid touching your nose and eyes. Smoking and stress weaken the immune system and increase the probability of  getting infected by a cold, so they should be avoided.


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