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A common cold, also known as acute coryza, is an inflammation of the upper respiratory tract caused by infection with common cold viruses. A common cold occurs more often than any other disease - hence, its name. A person may suffer from a common cold several times in a year. A cold usually lasts from three to ten days. The patient feels miserable for the first three days or so.
The initial signs of a cold are a feeling of soreness of the throat and congestion of the nasal passages. Although the disease normally begins in the nose and throat, it affects all parts of the body. Its usual symptoms are a running nose, sneezing, a rise in temperature, headache, sore throat, chill, aches and pains in the body, and loss of appetite. The skin around the nostrils may become sore.
A common cold results from exposure to the virus. Its intensity, however, depends upon the state of health of the person and environmental factors. Low vitality, exposure to cold, lack of sleep, mental depression, fatigue, and factors such as sudden changes in temperature, dust, and other irritating inhalations are important contributory causes.
Lemon is the most important among the many home remedies for common cold. It is beneficial in all types of cold with fever. Vitamin C-rich lemon juice increases body resistance, decreases toxicity and reduces the duration of the illness. One lemon should be diluted in a glass of warm water, and a teaspoon of honey should be added to it. This should be taken once or twice daily.
Garlic soup is an old remedy to reduce the severity of a cold, and should be taken once daily. The soup can be prepared by boiling three or four cloves of chopped garlic in a cup of water. Garlic contains antiseptic and antispasmodic properties, besides several other medicinal virtues. The oil contained in this vegetable helps to open up the respiratory passages. In soup form, it flushes out all toxins from the system and thus helps bring down fever. Five drops of garlic oil combined with a teaspoon of onion juice, and diluted in a cup of water, should be drunk two to three times a day. This has also been found to be very effective in the treatment of common cold.
Ginger is another excellent remedy for colds and coughs. About ten grams of ginger should be cut into small pieces and boiled in a cup of water. It should then be strained and half a teaspoon of sugar added to it. This decoction should be drunk when hot. Ginger tea, prepared by adding a few pieces of ginger into boiled water before adding the tea leaves, is also an effective remedy for colds and for fevers resulting from cold. It may be taken twice daily.
Lady's fingers are highly valuable in treating irritation of the throat and a persistent dry cough. This vegetable is rich in mucilage and acts as a drug to allay irritation, swelling, and pain. About 100 gm of Lady’s fingers should be cut into pieces, and boiled down in half a litre of water to make a decoction. The steam issuing from this decoction may also be inhaled once or twice a day to relieve throat irritation and a dry cough.
The roots of the bitter gourd plant are used in folk medicine to care a cold. A teaspoon of the root paste, mixed with an equal quantity of honey or tulsi leaf juice, given once every night for a month, acts as an excellent medicine for colds.
Turmeric is an effective remedy for cold~ and throat irritations. Half a teaspoon of fresh turmeric powder mixed in 30 ml of warm milk, and taken once or twice daily, is a useful prescription for these conditions. Turmeric powder should be put into a hot ladle. Milk should then be poured in it and boiled over a slow fire. This mixture should then be drunk by the patient. In case of a running cold, smoke from the burning turmeric should be inhaled. It will increase the discharge from the nose and provide quick relief.
Tamarind-pepper rasam is also considered an effective home remedy for a cold in South India. Dilute 50 mg tamarind in 250 ml of water. Boil the diluted tamarind water for a few minutes with a teaspoon of hot ghee and half a teaspoon of black pepper powder. This steaming hot rasam has a flushing effect, and should be taken three times a day. As one takes it, the nose and eyes water and the nasal blockage is cleared.
The regular intake of vitamin C-75 mg for adults and 35 mg for children-will prevent the common cold. If, however, a cold has already appeared, large doses of this vitamin will relieve the symptoms and shorten its duration. He estimates that one to two grams (1000 mg to 2000 mg) per day is approximately the optimum amount of this vitamin for this purpose. His advice is to swallow one or two 500 mg tablets of vitamin C at the appearance of the first sign of the cold and continue the treatment by taking one to two 500 mg tablets daily.
During the acute stage of the cold, when fever is present, the patient should abstain from all solid foods and only drink fruit and vegetable juices, diluted with water. After the acute symptoms are over, the patient can gradually embark upon a well-balanced diet, consisting of seeds, nuts, grains, vegetables, and fruits. It is advisable to avoid meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and starchy foods.
Other useful measures in the treatment of a common cold are a mild sunbath, fresh air and deep breathing, brisk walks, sound sleep, and adjustment of one's clothes and habits to the requirements of the season so as to nullify the effect of weather fluctuations.