SYLACAUGA, Ala. – This time of year, sneezing, coughing, runny noses fill the holiday season as people are infected with the dreaded common cold.

Even though it may be ‘common,’ many still do not know how to recognize the virus and prevent it from spreading.  

So what is the Common Cold?

The illness is caused by a small virus: the most common, the rhinovirus, parainfluenza virus, and coronavirus. It is most commonly caught by another person who is infected with the virus. The cold is picked up by touching surfaces that have germs on it such as doorknobs or keyboards. Someone can also catch it my being near someone sick who has just recently sneezed in the air. The virus attaches to the lining of the nose or throat causing the body’s immune system to send white blood cells to attack and defend against the germs. Most of the time, the initial attack fails and reinforcements are sent in causing the nose and throat to inflame and generate mucus. The infected person may notice feelings of fatigue, but it’s just because the bodies energy goes toward fighting the virus.

The common symptoms are sore throat, sneezing, stuffy nose, watery eyes, and mucus drainage.

The virus is also spread by the hands. It is important to keep your hands away from the mouth, nose, and eyes and to wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs.

Jeff Wood, Infectious Control Disease manager at Coosa Valley Medical Center, explained how some evidence suggests that Zinc can reduce the length and severity of cold symptoms.

“It’s very important to know the difference between the flu and cold,” said Wood. Both the cold and flu have the same symptoms of runny noses and headaches. But the flu has severe fevers and muscle aches.

Colds also can affect one’s daily lifestyle causing some to stay at home for numerous days resulting in days behind in work or school. Every year the CDC says 22 million school days are lost every year because of the illness and children have around 5-7 colds per year.

Tracy Abernathy, school nurse at Nichols Lawson Middle School, explained students are not allowed to come school unless they have gone 24 hours fever-free without medication in the Sylacauga City Schools. She stressed that the loss of school days causes many students to be behind.

“Symptoms of the common cold are most prevalent during the winter season. Students miss many days because of the symptoms of elevated fevers and cough congestion causing them to miss school work, sports, and activities. It really can effects their day to day living during the school year,” said Abernathy.  

The cold can affect anyone. Make sure to take all of the suggested precautions to prevent the virus from attacking you next.   

Caitlyn McTier for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2016, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.