Six types of cold and how to treat them

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Common winter health issues and their treatment

Winter is more than a nice mug of hot chocolate and chunky wool sweaters. It is a home for various germs and illness. With the start of chilly weather, certain diseases get spread, leaving you sick and weak. It is important to be careful about maintaining your health in the colder months. Here is a list of health issues you should worry about in the winter.

1. Seasonal Flu

Seasonal flu is caused by the flu virus. It mainly occurs in winter and about 20 percent of the population gets impacted by the flu every year. The flu is contagious and it spreads mostly through sneezing and coughing. The flu can also get transmitted when you touch a surface that is infected with the virus. Seasonal flu can be of three types: type A, type B and type C.

a. Type A

Type A is the most infectious flu type and can cause severe symptoms. This flu can affect both humans and animals. Wild birds are also the most common victims of this flu. It is highly contagious and is mainly spread when an infected person sneezes. Besides, this type of flu is one of the main reasons of epidemics.

b. Type B

Only humans suffer from type B flu. The type B flu causes less serious symptoms than type A flu, but should not be taken lightly as it can cause severe harm and serious epidemics.

c. Type C

Type C is milder than Type A and Type B flu. Basically, it is similar to common cold and cannot spread epidemics.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Sneeze
  • Chills
  • Muscle Ache
  • Blocked nose
  • Discomfort of eyes in bright light

Treatment

You can follow these tips on making yourself more comfortable during the flu.

  • Drinking hot drinks or soups will help you reduce the pain of throat and eases nose blockade.

When you have a flu, do not go after caffeinated coffee. It is always a good idea to try herbal tea with honey or just a cup of plain green tea. A nice bowl of soothing vegetable soup should be able to provide the comfort and the energy you need to help fight the flu.

  • Taking steams with menthol will help fight cold.

To take a hot steam, fill your kitchen or bathroom sink with hot water. After that, take a towel and drape it over your head and then lean over. You can add menthol ointment to the water to make the whole process more effective. If not, add two tablespoons of chopped ginger or four to five drops of eucalyptus oil for fast relief.

  • Gargling with salt water will help to soothe your sore throat.

Salt works as an antiseptic to clear up water from mucous membranes present in the throat. For this, take half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. If you cannot take the salty taste, you can add a small amount of honey. Gargle with the mixture and spit it out after. You can repeat this process four times a day.

  • Drinking enough fluids will prevent dehydration.

Drink about eight to nine cups of liquid every day. If you drink enough fluids, not only will it help you to be hydrated, but break the illness building mucus by thinning it. Hot drinks work better.

  • Taking enough rest will help you fight the flu.

If you’re not feeling too well, you might want to consult a doctor and take prescribed medicines.

Click here to learn more about Seasonal Flu in detail

2. Common cold

A person can catch a cold at any time of the year, but is most likely to catch it in the winter. When someone suffers from a cold, their upper respiratory tract gets infected. The illness is called “common cold” because it is common among the children and as well as the adults and many people suffer from it. If a person with cold coughs, sneezes or blows your nose in front on you, you may get a cold. It is also transmitted when you touch your mouth, eyes or nose after touching something that has been contaminated by the virus.

Symptoms

  • Blocked nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Mild fever
  • Cough
  • Muscle Ache
  • Scratchy throat
  • Reduced appetite

Treatment
Mostly, common cold goes away in a couple of days. While you have a cold, you can do the following things.

  • Drink enough fluids and get enough rest
  • Hot water, steam and salt water sprays will help ease the discomfort

Salt water spray helps in thinning mucus and nourishes dry membranes. It also removes bacteria and virus from the nose. Saline sprays can be bought at any drug store and can be used by children as well. Take the spray and spray it into a nostril and then blow out. Repeat this process until there is no more mucus left to come out.

  • Avoid antibiotics

Do not use antibiotics. A cold, should go away by itself in about a week. Using unnecessary pills to cure cold will do you nothing good.

  • Take Cough syrup

If you’re constantly coughing and want to feel better, use cough syrup. However, cough syrups do not necessarily make the cold go away.

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3. Norovirus

Norovirus, also known as the “Winter Vomiting Bug”, is caused by numerous viruses causing inflammation of the large intestine lining and stomach. It is also called “stomach flu” as it is transmitted through contaminated food. The illness normally stays for a week or two. Norovirus can be transmitted when we eat and drink contaminated food or liquids. It also gets transmitted when you are sharing the sick person’s utensils or touch the surface which has been contaminated by Norovirus.

Symptoms

  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Mild fever
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Stomach Ache

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for Norovirus.

  • Drink a lot of fluids.

Children with dehydration may be given Oral rehydration solution (ORS).
To make an oral rehydration solution, take a liter of plain water. Boil the water and then let it cool. After that, add six teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. Stir the mixture.

o Children under six months should be given 30ml to 90 ml of the ORS each hour.
o Children from six months to two years should be given 90 ml to 125 ml of the        solution every hour.
o Children over 2 years should be given 125ml to 250 ml of the mixture per hour.

  • Avoid fruit juice or fizzy drinks

Do not give fizzy drinks to children. These drinks will not keep the kids hydrated, but worsen their diarrhea.

  • Consult a doctor before taking any medicine.
  • Break down meals

Children with Norovirus should be given smaller meals time to time so that it becomes easier for them to digest. Food containing oil or sugar should be avoided. Adults should also be careful while selecting their food. They should mainly opt for rice, bread, pasta and soup as these foods are effortlessly digestive.

4. Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is an illness that mainly occurs during the winter. During the cold season, the virus causing Bronchiolitis is very powerful. Bronchiolitis is caused by an infection that disturbs airways that leads to the lungs. The job of these airways is to regulate the airflow. When these airways become infected, it becomes difficult to breathe. This illness is common among the children but, a few adults can also be affected by this illness.

Symptoms

  • Cracking sounds from the lungs
  • Ribs shrink as child inhales
  • Faster breathing
  • Quickness of breath
  • Whistling sound when inhaling
  • Whooping type of cough
  • Exhaustion

Treatment

  • Drink enough fluids

Drink a lot of fluids. It does not essentially has to be water. You can go for fruit drink or decaffeinated tea. While breastfeeding an ill child, try giving him smaller feeds more frequently.

  • Keep air clear of chemicals and smoke

If your child is suffering from Bronchiolitis, do not smoke in front of him. Avoid using cigarette or other tobacco products near an ill child as it will worsen the child’s situation. Keeping a kid away from smoke will even reduce the future possibility of the disease.

  • Moisten the air

You can use an air humidifier in order to keep the air moist. Heat your home to a cozy temperature. Avoid overheating as it will dry out the air.

Consult a doctor before taking medicines

5. Acute ear infections

Ear infection is an illness that mostly occurs during winter. People who have seasonal allergies have bigger chances of getting an ear infection. This illness is the most common cause for earaches among children. Although this illness is mostly associated with children, this can also happen to adults. The infection mostly comes along with respiratory infections such as common cold and flu. The infection happens in the middle ear as it is linked to the respiratory tract by the Eustachian tube. The germs which grow in the nose climbs up the tube and enter the middle ear to cause the illness.

Symptoms

Among children, these are the symptoms.

  • Earache
  • Crying more
  • Acting irritable
  • Not responding to sounds
  • Headache
  • Not sleeping
  • Pulling at an ear
  • Fluids coming out of ears
  • Mild Fever

In Adults, these are the symptoms.

  • Earache
  • Fluid drainage from the ear
  • Problem in hearing

Treatment

  • Use pain relief ear drops

Pain relief air drops will not treat the illness but eases the pain and give you comfort.

  • Warm water bottle

In order to get quick relief, take a warm bottle and place it against your ear. You can also press a heating pad or a warm cloth on your infected ear. Use warm cloth, take a clean fabric and dip it into lukewarm water. Squeeze the cloth to get rid of the excess water and then place the cloth on the ear. The heat relief process should not be for long. You can repeat this twice a day for not more than five minutes.

  • Use salt

Take a cup of salt and then microwave it for about six minutes. Take a clean sock and fill it up with the hot salt. Tie the end of the sock using a string or a rubber band. Now, put the sock in the infected ear for not more than ten minutes. The heat of the salt helps in taking out fluids from the ear.

  • Garlic

Garlic oil acts as a pain reliever while having acute ear infections. For immediate relief, take garlic oil and put a few drops of it in your ear. You can also eat two to three garlic cloves in order to cure the illness. Do not give aspirin to children

You may take medicines in case of fever.

6. Asthma

Asthma is an illness that causes the swelling and narrowing of the lungs. When the airways narrows it makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs making it difficult to breathe. It is not true that winter is the main cause of Asthma but if you suffer from the disease, you know that most asthma attacks happen in winter. The cold air tightens the airways of the lungs and make it worse to breathe.

Symptoms

  • Coughing
  • Ribs get pulled in while breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightening

Treatment

  • Smoke free home

Make sure that your home is smoke free. Smoke of cigarette, cigars and pipes is very harmful for a person with Asthma. The smoke directly affects the lungs of the ill person as it helps to collect more dust and mucus in the airways of the lungs.

  • Change bed covers

It is extremely important to keep the bed sheet of patient clean and dust free. Changing bed covers at least once a week is recommended.

  • Limit your time with pets

Pet’s dander and hair can trigger an asthma attack. It is best if you keep out your pets from your bedroom or limit their access to some specific rooms.

  • Make sure your place is dust free

Asthma needs to be treated with medicines. Both long term and short term should be able to control the swelling of the airways. Long term medicines are the medicines taken for the maintenance of the illness, whereas short term medicines are for quick relief. See a doctor before taking any medicines.

Click here to learn more about Asthma medication and treatments