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¿What is a cold? What does catch a cold mean?

Did you know that each year millions and millions of people catch a cold? Why? Now we'll explain it to you.

When we talk of colds we are talking about a VIRUS.

A virus is a microscopic infectious agent (in other words, it is very tiny).

Colds in fact are produced by more than 100 different types of viruses that invade people through the airways (nose and mouth).

The most commonly involved viruses are known as rhinoviruses and coronaviruses.

What happens when we catch a cold?

VIRUSES attack by penetrating our body and weakening its defenses.

They are transmitted by contact with objects or droplets of saliva that infected people expel when they speak or sneeze. That is why it is easy to catch a cold.

Many people may think that there must be a vaccine, but in fact it is not possible to fight all the different viruses that intervene in the illness.


When we catch a cold, we can have from one to all of the following symptoms:


Who catches colds more often?

Practically all children catch a cold before one year of age.

This is because the body defenses of a small child are much weaker than the defenses of an adult.

Schoolchildren easily catch colds, and very old people as well.

Although a cold may not seem serious or important, we must take into account that it can be the start of a more serious health problem or illness.

What can we do to avoid catching a cold?

The experts have shown that if you eat fruit and vegetables you can more easily avoid a cold.
Greens, including spinach, artichokes, squash, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas , beans, leaks, beatsor watercress are all autumn and winter vegetables, and are ideal to eat to avoid catching a cold..


Fruit containing much vitamin C, can also help avoid colds.


Don't walk around barefoot or you'll catch a cold

Why do parents say "Don't walk around barefoot or you'll catch a cold"?

The nasal mucosa is a natural barrier that prevents viruses from penetrating the body.

Walking barefoot or without enough clothes on causes the nose temperature to drop a few degrees. With this change in temperature many people suffer nose irritation symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. These changes in the nasal mucosa and runny nose can make it easier for any viruses present in the nose to penetrate the body.


What can we do to avoid catching or transmitting a cold?

Avoid contact with people who have a cold, specially when they have just caught the infection - though sometimes it is possible to catch a cold from someone who doesn't yet know that he or she has a cold.

Avoid spending much time with many people in places without adequate ventilation.


If you have a cold, wash your hands well and often, especially after wiping your nose. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.


Differences and similarities between a cold and the flu

Sometimes, when we have a runny nose, cough and a sore neck, we may seem to have the flu, when in fact we may simply have a cold. These are the differences between one illness and the other:



When we have a cold, it is important to keep our body well hydrated; this is why we should drink lots of liquid, water or juice, or tea, inhale eucalyptus vapor, etc.
If the weather is cold, the best idea is to dress warmly, and resting can help improve the infection.


The common cold is possibly the most common of all human illnesses.

In the year 2000 in, Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, the European Committee for the Study of the Common Cold was created.

A doctor from the Common Cold Research Center calculated that a 75-year-old person is likely to have had a cold about 200 times, and on counting the days involved, it can be seen that he or she had a runny nose and sneezed and coughed for the equivalent of three whole years!

It should be pointed out that when speaking in Spanish or Catalan, the common cold is referred to as "constipado / constipat" - which of course has very little to do with the word "constipation" in English!!!!

M. Pilar Gascón. Pharmacist.