Five things you didn’t know about… The Common Cold


By Quibik via Wikipedia Commons

Having a cold is one of the most annoying yet prominent parts of human life, and it will undoubtedly plague each and every one of us many, many times in our lives. It launches us into a state of red-nosed, bleary-eyed, nasal-voiced self pity, of which nobody else wants to be a part. You’re all aware that it’s one of the best opportunities to whinge and feel sorry for yourself, but did you know…

1. “Just take the day off…”: one study estimates that colds caused kids to miss 189 million school days per year and their parents 126 million days per year to care for them. Adult cold suffers miss an estimated 150 million workdays. The total economic loss associated with the common cold in the US alone is estimated to be in excess of $20 million. Looks like the whole economy should be feeling sorry for itself, let alone the individual.

2. Finally a good reason to be old: by the time you hit 75, you’ve probably suffered from 200 colds and spent around two years of your life coughing and sneezing. The good news is you catch fewer colds the older you get as you’ve probably encountered most strains already.

3. Kiss me quick: Surprisingly, common cold viruses are not easily spread through kissing. In laboratory experiments where people with colds kissed healthy volunteers, only one in thirteen people without colds became infected. You are more likely to catch cold through snuggling up in bed for eight hours with your cold-suffering partner because you need to spend several hours with someone to become contaminated.

4. Don’t sweat it: The typical stick-your-head-under-a-blanket-and-over-a-bowl-of-hot-water remedy to try to cure a cold is actually completely ineffective. The only benefit this may have is to make you feel a little better (because it addresses the symptoms).

5. Fruity: It is a myth that loads of vitamin c and zinc help to stave off (or cure) a cold. While it is often a good idea to take vitamin and mineral supplements, they have no effect on the cold virus. Once the cold hits, you are better off taking painkillers and waiting it out.


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  • Christopher Watson

    I cannot say I agree with taking painkillers where a common cold is concerned! A hot orange and some comfort food does just as much to replicate the placebo effect of taking pills to hasten getting better. Through time, you can become immune to the primary effects of such medication; much better to wait it out without resorting to paracetemol and ibruprofen everytime you get a sniffle.