In this blog we will look the stages of the common cold and how we can improve our chances of avoiding getting one.
Cold symptoms differ from person to person but are basically the same. The first signs appear two to three days after exposure to the cold virus and can last as long as seven to ten days.
Look at a cold virus under a microscope and it looks like a thing of beauty which is ironic really as this has the opposite effect to the face of the person suffering from this evil invader.
I once knew a couple who went on honeymoon to a cold sanctuary where they actually volunteered to be infested with the same virus that most of us will do anything to avoid getting. How romantic! How strange? Only one of them caught a cold, I wonder if they were disappointed…
The development of the cold follows a similar pattern, I’m sure you recognise it...
At the end of the day you are knackered. You’ve not done anything different but for some reason all you want to do is get an early night. You think maybe you’re coming down with something? But no, you don’t have time for this, besides, you’re never ill.
You wake up in the morning and for a second you think that all is well. You sit up and a single droplet drips out of your nostril. There’s a tingle at the back of your throat but, you have beaten it, your immune system is superior to everyone else’s. By the afternoon your throat is a bit crackly and you are sneezing occasionally, you’re convinced that this is the worst your cold is going to get, super immunity has saved the day! Everyone else with a cold is causing a fuss, you’re proof that you can just get on with things and working through it is the best thing to do.
By the amount of fluid on your pillow and in your hair it’s very clear that yesterday was just a warm up for the cold virus. The main event is only just starting. You sit up and water leaks from every available orifice in your head. OMG!!!! What has happened to your face???? Your eyes are heavy and black in stark contrast to your marble complexion, your nose has grown double its size. You have aged 20 years. You pull yourself out of bed and convince yourself that a shower will help to revive you to your normal beauty. You stand like Neanderthal man as the water hits you, mingling with the snot and tears streaming down your face.
Women, you are determined to apply make up onto your swollen eyes, mascara streaks down your cheeks, you dab it away and re-apply until your lashes look like clumps of watery pipe cleaners. Men, you don’t even both looking in the mirror. You sneeze at such a velocity that it would rival a Wimbledon tennis serve and it’s constant!
You’ve got to admit it now, you’re ill. Your immune system isn’t the super hero you thought it was.
You drag yourself and your neon bright nose to work. Astute colleagues will say things like “Have you got a cold?” (No flies on them are there?) or “ Oh, you look awful!” (All that make up and face preparation was for nothing then?!) This is guaranteed to make you feel worse! If someone says to you “you look tired” you immediately start to feel it even if you’re not!
This is the only time when your colleagues/ boss can see that you are really ill; sciatica or a migraine can be invisible and those of a more sceptical nature can think that you may be looking for a day off!! They will also be very happy to see you go, as soon as you have left the room the fumigation process begins!
Once you are home you slump on the sofa with a blanket feeling very sorry for yourself.. On the arm of the sofa is every form of cold relief possible and you wait patiently for four hours to tick by until you can take some more. The TV is on, you can’t see it through your watery eyes, and you can’t hear it over the noise of your sneezes. The cat looks at you with disgust.
You don’t want to wake up; your face has turned its self inside out overnight which is actually an improvement. Your mouth feels like the bottom of a budgies cage because of the cold relief tablets soaking up every last drop of liquid in your body. You try to drink but someone has lined your throat with barbed wire. Your body is hot one minute cold the next, your head feels like it is about to explode. Its official you are dying, you start to plan your own funeral.
You know you should eat healthy foods to help fight this demon within you but all you crave is junk food. You force chocolate past the barbed wire easing your conscience with the fact that you need calories to get you through this.
Daytime TV is keeping you company, it’s the only human contact you’ll have, no one will come anywhere near you. Friends or family kindly bring you shopping and medication refills but they shove them through the letterbox and run.
You wake up to the sound of a pneumatic drill in your bedroom; you realise that is actually you snoring. The tap has been turned off and the free flowing water has been replaced with something that has the consistency of wallpaper paste. You can’t breathe! Your lungs feel like the size of egg cups and about as useful at gaseous exchange as a cake .Medication has now changed for something to unblock you! Your voice has changed into some one else’s. This nasally whine sounds nothing like yours and why are your th’s now pronounced as ‘da’?
You decide to go to work, you are brave, you are a warrior. Your face refuses to accept make up, your nose has started to flake, your hair looks like it hasn’t been washed for a month.
Colleagues don’t welcome you back with open arms; you are greeted with “Oh great, now I’m going to get it!” Except for one person who smugly thinks that their immune system is superior to yours and says “I never get ill….”
You are on the road to recovery; your face will take longer, you’ve got the cold out of the way, until the next time!
How can you avoid catching a cold?
It’s extremely difficult to avoid getting a cold virus.
- Colds can be spread by inhaling someone’s sneeze (yuk!) If you sneeze make sure you capture it in a tissue and throw it away, if you don’t have a tissue use the crook of your arm to avoid sneezing into your hand.
- The best way is to thoroughly wash your hands. If someone sneezes into their hands millions of germs are spread onto the skin. If they then touch door handles, groceries or public transport the germs can easily be transferred from person to person.
- Avoid touching your nose or eyes as these are great pathways into your body.
- Build a plastic bubble around you and have your own oxygen supply! Bit drastic but it’ll probably work…
The common cold makes you feel very poorly for a few days, the only thing you can do is to rest, drink plenty of fluids, take paracetomal based medication if you can to keep your temperature down and try to eat little and often. Honey, lemon and hot water is great for a cough, don’t spend a fortune on cough mixture.
If you feel that you are developing something more serious, your breathing is very difficult or you cannot control your temperature seek medical advice.
My cold is on its way out, my face is beginning to turn its self the right way round, my family are stepping into the same room as me again, my cat however is still disgusted.
Keep well people, bless you!