Bangkok Post : Don’t get knocked out by a cold

by Symptom Advice on January 14, 2012

This is the time of the year when reported cases of cold, flu and pneumonia are high. Infants, children and the elderly are at higher risk of acquiring one or more of these diseases and often have severe forms of the diseases with additional complications. Uninfected individuals are likely to acquire infectious virus particles that are shed from patients in their nasal and oral secretions such as saliva and sneeze droplets, making direct and close contact the major transmission routes for the viruses.


Common cold is an illness that can be found all year round but is most prevalent during the winter months. a number of different viruses can cause the common cold but infection by a single type of virus is more commonly the case. The human immune system has an amazing memory capable of remembering the virus after recovery therefore preventing the same virus from causing the disease again because the immune system can recognise and eliminate the virus before it can cause any illness.


Viruses are found in oral and nasal secretions and are spread via cough, sneeze or direct contact with surfaces or objects that are contaminated with the virus.


The symptoms usually present themselves one to three days after acquiring the virus with the most common being fever, fatigue, muscle pain, headache, coughing, sore throat and increased nasal secretions or sometimes leading to nasal congestion. The lymph nodes around the neck may become inflamed. Infants can rapidly develop severe fever and may also suffer from diarrhea.

Secondary bacterial infections

If the patients do not recover within four days, secondary bacterial infections may cause additional complications such as tissue damage or toxins. Tonsillitis, sinusitis, otitis media (middle ear infection), pharyngitis and pneumonia are examples of diseases that may result from co-infection with the bacteria. Infants are at risk of suffering from deadly shock from high fever and rapid fluid loss thus professional medical care is very important. Common cold usually resolves itself within a week and the best cure is to take lots of rest, drink plenty of clean water and consume a well-balanced diet.


Influenza is an acute respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus. The virus has the potential to cause a global pandemic as already seen in 1918 when Spanish flu killed more than 50 million people worldwide. it has been estimated that each year about 15% of the global population is infected with the virus during the winter months. Last year Thailand confirmed 115,183 reported cases of the flu or 180.82 per 100,000 individuals with a mortality rate of 0.2 per 100,000 individuals. The country had seen a constant decline in the number of cases between 2002 and 2006, but then experienced a significant increase in the number in 2009 with the number of confirmed flu cases being 189 per 100,000 individuals. The group with the highest infection rate is children under the age of four and the group with the highest mortality rate is the elderly group above the age of 55. Therefore, these two groups should take extra preventative measures against the influenza virus.


Influenza virus is found in oral and nasal secretions of infected patients and spread via close or direct contact.

Infectious period

Patients may begin to shed infectious virus particles one or more days before the appearance of any signs and symptoms and can continue to shed the virus three to five days after the signs and symptoms have disappeared making the disease very difficult to control. Children and infants may continue to shed the virus for more than a week.


Symptoms caused by influenza are usually more severe when compared with viruses that cause common cold. The patient will start to display symptoms one to four days after becoming infected. most common symptoms are rapid onset of fever, shivering, severe headache, nausea, headache, fatigue, sore throat, coughing and pharyngitis. The recovery period usually ranges from one to two weeks. Secondary bacterial infections can lead to complications that may result in death in some patients, particularly those that are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed.


- Avoid coming in close contact with patients infected with the virus.

- Wash hands with soaps and clean water regularly and before every meal.

- Avoid touching or rubbing the mucosal areas _ eyes, nose and mouth.

- Maintain good health by exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and consume a well-balanced diet.

- get vaccinated every year (It is recommended that those older than six months, especially the high risk groups be vaccinated every year).


- get enough rest and sleep.

- Keep your body warm with sufficient clothes and avoid rain, cold weather and cold water when showering.

- Stay in a well-ventilated room.

- Drink lots of clean, warm water to keep the body well hydrated and avoid cold water.

- Consume foods that are easy to digest and fruit juices that are rich in vitamins.

- never share utensils with other people.

- Use a mouth cover to help minimise spreading of respiratory droplets that contain infectious viruses.

- Wash hands with soap and clean water regularly.

- Rinse your mouth often with clean water.

- Keep a distance from young children, the elderly, immunocompromised and immunosuppressed individuals.

Next week, getting to know pneumonia and how to prevent it.

About the author Writer: Bangkok Hospital Research Centre Latest stories in this category:

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