The common cold, known as Rhinovirus, sooner or later will take somebody down with it, and last for quite a while. Here are some facts about the common cold to help us understand why it’s so easily caught, and how to hopefully prevent getting this virus in the first place.
There isn’t just one cold virus. Rhinovirus actually comes in more than 100 different forms, which is why there is no real “cure” or vaccine against the common cold. This is also why so many people can get more than one cold a year. More often than not, a person contracts one Rhinovirus for one illness, and a different Rhinovirus for another. Just because you have already had a cold doesn’t mean you won’t get another, because your body likely doesn’t have an antibody against all of the many viruses that cause the common cold.
The common cold virus, Rhinovirus, is derived from the Greek word “rhin”, meaning nose. This is because the virus enters the body via the nose and throat. Once the Rhinovirus makes it through the lining in the nose or throat, it can result in a headache, sore throat, or runny nose within just a few days.
This virus is fairly durable outside the body as well. When the Rhinovirus is exposed to air, via through a cough or someone who has wiped their nose and then touched a surface, the virus can live for up to 3 hours. Dry air helps the Rhinovirus survive longer, so having a humidifier in the house can help lessen the lifetime of this virus outside the body. When a person sneezes or coughs, the Rhinovirus can be shot out up to 12 feet, so you don’t have to be sitting right next to someone to be exposed to their cold.
As a virus, the common cold is not caused by going outside when it’s cold out, sleeping near a draft, being exposed to cold air when your hair is wet, or anything related to cold or weather. The Rhinovirus is simply a virus, and while it is more prevalent in winter months, it can be caught and exposed to many people at any given time. There is no medical evidence to show why the common cold attacks people at any given time, but cooler temperatures will not cause a cold.
Once you have been exposed to one form of the Rhinovirus, odds are, you won’t get it again. Your body automatically creates an immunity to a cold once you’ve had it, but not always. Stress, lack of sleep, anxiety, and many other factors that weaken our natural immunity can make us susceptible to versions of Rhinovirus we’ve already been infected by. You also are not protected against the many forms of Rhinovirus just by contracting one cold.
No medical evidence supports that chicken soup cures the common cold, but it has been sweared by as a cure for the cold for over 800 years. While it may not actually get rid of a cold, the nutrients and hydration of chicken soup certainly does help a person feel better, which makes all the difference. Staying hydrated in general and keeping the air around you moist with a humidifier or a boiling pot of water on the stove helps your body fight off the virus sooner.
A Rhinovirus left untreated can turn into something more severe, like sinusitis, bronchitis, walking pneumonia, ear infection, or a bacterial infection, as the common cold breaks down the body’s immunity and fighting ability if it is not treated. Typically, the Rhinovirus lasts up to 2 weeks, clearing on its own often in about a weeks’ time.