A viral infection is usually the cause of cough and cold with symptoms including sneezing, runny/stuffy nose, coughing, nasal congestion, headache, and mild to moderate fever (especially in children). The condition is mostly harmless and does not require any special medical attention; ample rest, some over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, or home remedies are enough to get you up and running in a few days.
Cough and cold are quite common as an average adult gets affected by it 2 to 3 times a year, but they can make you feel miserable. Thus, gaining more knowledge about this condition can help you avoid it. You will find more details about common cough and cold here, including causes, treatment, and prevention.
Common causes of cough and cold
Cold is a condition that involves the inflammation of the respiratory tract (nose, throat, trachea, and lungs) caused by various reasons. Cough helps get the stuff out of your respiratory organs (such as the windpipe and lungs) that is not supposed to be there. Both are natural responses of your body to tackle an underlying health concern, albeit they cause great inconvenience.
Although many people believe cold weather is the primary cause of cough and cold, it is not true. Following are some of the common reasons for catching a cold and cough:
1. Viral infection
Common cold and cough are caused by viruses such as the influenza virus or one of the rhinoviruses. It is highly contagious, and an infected person should avoid going to public gatherings and take adequate precaution to prevent the spread if they have to go. Most viral infections subside within 7–10 days, but some leave a lingering dry cough that lasts for weeks.
2. Bacterial infection
Tuberculosis, for example, is a bacterial infection that affects the lungs, and it can result in severe cough and cold. Your doctor will administer antibiotics to combat an infection after diagnosis. If you have a persistent cough, you should visit the doctor and get tested for tuberculosis.
When the body mistakes a foreign element, such as dust, moult, or pollens, for an invasive pathogen, it starts a process to remove the pathogen from your body, and you get cold and cough as a result. Allergies vary from person to person, and the onset of cold and cough is triggered by inhaling the triggers.
It is a chronic condition, which causes your airways to swell and to produce an excess of mucus. Much like allergies, when people with asthma inhale certain trigger components, they get cold and cough.
Poor air quality, cold air, cigarette smoke, and strong perfumes are some of the examples of irritants that can cause an occasional cold and cough in people who do not have allergies or asthma.
6. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
COPD is a group of chronic lung ailments that obstructs the airflow to and from your lungs and may lead to inflammation of the respiratory tract, resulting in cough and cold. People with this disease are highly prone to be affected by the common cold and cough.
7. Postnasal drip
When you have cold, your nasal cavity is likely congested. During this period, if excess mucus drips down into your throat, your body will automatically try to cough it up to clear the pathway. This can be caused by different underlying conditions such a sinus infection.
8. Acid reflux
Although it is not the most common cause of cough, acid reflux can lead to your stomach sending acid back up your oesophagus and may result in coughs.
Apart from the ones listed above lung inflammation, sleep apnoea, drug side effects, and other health problems can also cause cough and cold
How to prevent cough and cold?
You can avoid getting a cough and cold by following basic hygiene and these measures:
1. Wash your hands before meals and after touching your face or common surfaces (such doorknobs, buttons in the lift, and doorbells) in public areas.
2. Regularly clean surfaces in your environment that are likely to be touched the most, including light switches and kitchen and bathroom countertops.
3. Cough and sneeze into tissues, handkerchiefs, or your elbow.
4. Avoid sharing the same utensils for drinking and eating with other people.
5. Maintain a safe distance from people who have cold, and avoid going to public places when you are infected.
6. Take a balanced diet and ensure ample sleep to keep your immune system up and about.
Do headaches cause Cold & Cough?
No. Since cough and cold are ailments related to the respiratory tract/organs, headaches cannot cause cough and cold. However, they are a common symptom in people who already have cough and cold.
How do you know you have cough and cold?
Usually, you can diagnose it by yourself by looking out for the following symptoms:
a. Runny/stuffy nose
b. Nasal congestion
e. Watery eyes
Which are the most common causes of cough and cold?
Common cough and cold are caused by the following factors:
a. Viral infections (for example, influenza, rhinovirus, and COVID-19)
e. Inhaling extremely poor air quality (for example, cigarette smoke)
f. Bacterial infection of the respiratory tract
Does eating cold food cause Cold & Cough?
No, eating cold food items alone is not the cause of cough and cold. Although there is no evident research/study to back the belief, the symptoms of people who already have cough and cold seem to get worse after consuming cold food items.
However, it is recommended to drink warm fluids as it helps with the inflamed respiratory tracts and may also wash off mucus along with viruses to alleviate symptoms and aid recovery.
How do you stop cough and cold?
There is no way to stop cough and cold; however, you can reduce the symptoms of the condition to continue your day with significant ease. You can take over-the-counter medicines to help with congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing or use some of the common home remedies to reduce the symptoms.
Should you drink milk if you have common cold and cough?
Although many people believe that drinking milk increases phlegm production, there is no study to back up this belief. If you take lukewarm or warm milk with ginger and/or honey, it might actually soothe your sore throat while providing nutrition; thus, you can try drinking milk in small quantities and see for yourself.