Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Understanding the Common Cold

Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a viral infection of the respiratory tract that causes fever, headache, muscle aches, and overall weakness. There are three types of influenza virus, all of which are spread from person to person through the inhalation of infected droplets in the air. Type A virus is constantly changing and is usually responsible for large outbreaks of the flu. New strains of Type A virus develop regularly and may result in a new flu epidemic every few years. Types B and C are fairly stable viruses. Type B causes smaller influenza outbreaks, and Type C usually causes mild symptoms that are similar to the common cold.

The common cold is a contagious viral infection of the upper respiratory tract characterized by inflammation of the mucous membranes, sneezing, and sore throat. Generally, colds are spread through contact with droplets from the coughing or sneezing of someone with a cold. The common cold is caused by over 200 viruses - known as rhinoviruses. Immunity to a wide variety of rhinoviruses develops as we grow older, and as such, children may have up to 10 colds a year, while adults may only have up to 4 colds a year. The common cold is the number one reason for missed work and school. In fact, due to excessive amount of missed work and school, medical expenses, and over-the-counter medications, the common cold costs Americans $2.5 billion annually.

Many adults and children are diagnosed with the cold or flu on a continual basis and/or for an extended period of time (longer than 8 to 10 days). This can be caused by a variety of dietary and lifestyle factors, but ultimately, the primary factor is a chronic weakness of the immune system.

Because the common cold and flu are caused by viral infections, antibiotics have no effect unless you are treating a secondary bacterial infection. Prescribing antibiotics creates antibiotic-resistant organisms, which are now a serious worldwide problem.

There is no cure for the common cold or flu, but by strengthening your body's own defenses through a nutritious diet, exercise, immune-supporting supplements, plenty of rest, and other functional medicine approaches, you may be able to prevent future re-occurrence. To learn more, visit us at Advanced Health Clinic

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