Even though there are various medical developments for several serious conditions, the common cold is still an inevitable part of human life. Common cold is triggered by a viral infection of the tissues that line the upper airways particularly the nose and upper throat. A number of viruses are capable of causing common cold.
The initial symptoms of common cold typically start 1-4 days after being infected with the cold virus. Runny nose and sneezing episodes typically start first and followed by other symptoms including a scratchy throat, nasal stuffiness and dry cough.
Always bear in mind that sneezing is often the initial symptom of common cold. The irritation of the lining of the nose or throat triggered by infection with the cold virus stimulates the neighboring nerves and starts the sneezing reflex.
Sneezing is a protective response as the body tries to expel foreign particles forcibly and cleanses the nasal passageways. It is sad to note that sneezing is also a common way in which cold viruses spread from one individual to another. The individual should cover his/her nose and mouth with a tissue while sneezing to prevent the spread of the cold viruses.
A runny nose is a distinctive symptom of common cold and typically starts at the same time as sneezing. The immune system reacts to the infection in the nose triggered by the cold viruses, thus generating the release of chemicals that stimulate the nerves that supply the nasal lining and leads to watery nasal secretions.
Just like with sneezing, runny nose is a defense mechanism that that body utilizes to clear out the invading cold viruses. After a span of a few days, the nasal secretions become thicker and eventually change to a dark color. This is normal and reflects a change in the make-up of the nasal secretions as the cold resolves.
Once the watery nasal secretions become denser, a stuffy nose becomes a prominent symptom. The blood vessels in the nasal lining dilate as a response to the attack of the immune system on the invading cold viruses. This result to the swelling of the tissues of the nasal passages that often makes it hard for the individual to breathe via the nose.
In some cases, a sore or scratchy throat might be the initial symptom of a common cold. This typically occurs when the cold viruses invades the throat first and spreads to the nose. A sore throat that develops after a few days into a cold might be caused by the spread of the virus from the nose or irritation due to the mucus drainage that runs down the rear of the throat.
Even though a dry cough is a usual symptom of common cold, it is does not indicate infection of the lungs. The coughing linked with the common cold is due to an exaggerated or overly active cough reflex, possibly due to the flood of the immune system chemicals released as the body tries to fight the viruses. Most cases of cough linked with common cold vanish within 3 weeks.
Most cases of common cold vanish within a week and do not require a visit with a doctor. Some of the serious cases have symptoms that are similar to common cold but requires treatment. If an individual starts to experience high fever, wheezing, shortness of breath, night sweats, chills, chest pain or other symptoms, a doctor should be consulted.