What is a Cold? Causes, symptoms, and prevention tips

Updated: Nov 22

Cold, also called infectious rhinitis is a very common contagious upper respiratory infection that affects our nose, mouth, throat, sinuses, trachea (windpipe) and lungs. Cold is the most common illness among adults and children, wherein healthy adults face 2-3 colds every year whereas infants and young children may experience more frequent colds. All these illnesses are caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract. All are contagious and can spread easily from one person to another.

Most viruses can be classified into one of several groups. These groups include:


· Rhinovirus: They are most active in early fall, spring and summer. They are responsible for 10% - 40% of colds.


· Coronavirus: These are mostly active in the winter and early spring. They are responsible for 20% of colds.


· RSV and parainfluenza: These cause 20% of colds and sometimes lead to severe infections, like pneumonia in young children.


Symptoms of Cold


Symptoms of a cold usually appear 1-3 days post exposure to a cold-causing virus. Signs and symptoms vary from person to person.

  • Runny nose

  • Mild fatigue

  • Coughing

  • Scratchy or sore throat

  • Sneezing and stuffy nose

  • Watery eyes

  • Cough and nasal congestion

  • Slight body aches or a mild headache

  • Low-grade fever

  • Chills

  • Earache

  • Loss of appetite

Causes of the cold

Colds are generally infectious and are passed from one person to another. The average adult gets about 2 - 3 colds per year, most often during the winter. Children may have 8-12 colds in a year because their body's defenses aren't as developed. Factors like age, poor immune system, climate change, smoking and direct exposure with the virus can increase the chances of getting a cold.


The common cold is spread either by;


i) Direct contact with an infected and contaminated surface.

ii) Inhaling the airborne virus after infected individual sneezes or coughs.

iii) Coming in contact with hands contaminated with nasal secretions.


What is Cough


A cough is basically a protective reflex action of the body to clear our airways track. It’s mostly triggered by smoke, dust or by infectious agents; like bacteria and viruses. Most coughs clear up within 3 weeks and don't require any specific treatment. A dry cough means it's tickly and doesn't produce any phlegm (thick mucus). A chesty cough means phlegm is produced to help clear your airways. A cough is relatively painless, but it can be irritating or distracting to others, and the effort of coughing can leave one feeling achy and fatigued. An occasional cough is normal and nothing to worry about, but a cough that lasts for several weeks or more or one that produces discolored or bloody mucus may be a sign of a medical condition which requires instant treatment.


Types of cough


There are two main types of coughs:


i) Wet cough- It releases mucus (phlegm) from our airways.

ii) Dry cough- It does not release mucus and serves no useful purpose


Symptoms of Cough


Coughs can be either acute or chronic. Acute cough begins suddenly and usually lasts for less than three weeks, on the other side Chronic coughs last\ longer than eight weeks.


· A runny or stuffy nose

· A feeling of liquid running down the back of your throat

· Frequent throat clearing and sore throat

· Hoarseness

· Wheezing and shortness of breath

· Heartburn or a sour taste in your mouth


Causes of Cough


Acute coughs and chronic coughs have different causes.


Causes of acute cough are:


· Upper respiratory tract infection (URTI)

· Lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI)

· Allergy ( rhinitis or hay fever)

· Inhaled dust or smoke

· Other disorders (Asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or Chronic bronchitis)


Causes of chronic cough are:


· Chronic bronchitis

· Asthma

· Allergies

· Smoking and throat disorders

· Bronchiectasis

· Postnasal drip

· Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

· Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

· Other disorders; lung cancer, heart failure or tuberculosis.


Though cough and cold are normal heath issues and they get solved after couple of days. But if the issue remains and the symptoms persist for a longer days then quick action must be taken before the cough enters the lungs and start impacting its functioning. Adding small amount of dietary supplement in our schedule will help us receive the essential nutrients which our body is currently lacking. One such health supplement is ‘Fentoso capsule’, an herbal dietary supplement which helps to promote one’s natural immunity and healthy life span. The capsule is also:


a) Effective in bronchitis, chronic coughs and breathlessness.

b) Stimulates immune system, fights against infections, reduces stress and anxiety.

c) Useful in lung disorder and throat infection.

d) Suppresses inflammation in airways caused by allergies and infections.


With best quality extracts of plants like Adulsa, Ashwagandha, Turmeric, Parijat, Guduchi, Tulsi, Marigold, Amla, Varahikand, Cloves, Pippali and Black pepper the capsules promote healthy life span, boost natural immunity and helps the body fight against symptoms of cough and cold.