The common cold has produced some pretty uncommon reactions.
Modern medicine has evolved more practical ways of coping with colds—and a good thing, too. Financially and health wise, it’s bad business to neglect a cold.
What is a cold? Since history’s first recorded sneeze (noted in Egyptian medical books some 3,000 years old) man has been seeking an answer, and scientists still aren’t sure. Most of the available evidence points to tiny germs called viruses as the culprits causing the common cold. When carriers (people with colds) cough, sneeze, talk or touch anything at all, they spread battalions of viruses around. The danger is particularly great during the winter months when resistance is low and colds are most severe. Hopeful folklore to the contrary, there is no known cure for colds. But there are many medications that will minimize their effects and some common sense rules to prevent the common cold from getting a foothold in your household.
Stay in top physical condition. Eat three well-balanced meals a day, exercise to unwind tense muscles and keep you feeling, fit, get eight hours of sleep—or as much as you need to function at top efficiency. Don’t omit the regular medical check-ups that pinpoint small health problems before they become big ones.
Avoid getting wet or chilled. Wearing a raincoat, overshoes, etc. when the weather looks threatening will help. But if you’re drenched despite all precautions, change to dry clothes as soon as possible.
Steer clear of carriers. Give crowds in general and cold sufferers in particular a wide berth, bearing in mind that one sneeze can blast 20,000 virus-laden droplets up to 12 feet at a speed of 150 feet per second — and that some of these droplets will still be lingering in the air after half an hour.
Be careful of contaminated objects. Anything that a cold sufferer has used—dishes, tableware, towels, and chairs—can be virus-laden. If any member of your family has a cold, be sure his towels and dishes are kept separate from those used by other members of the household. Wash your hands of him—or any other cold sufferer you have met during the day by doing just that—scrubbing your hands thoroughly before each meal.
Care should be taken when taking cold medications. Many modern cold medications can cause drowsiness and affect your reaction time. Read the precautions on the label. Inform your supervisor of any medications (prescription or non-prescription) that you are taking prior to or at work.
Rest, preferably bed rest, is your best weapon against these viruses. To make your stay there more comfortable, various decongestant cold capsules have been developed. These are said to reduce fever, relieve headaches and other cold symptoms.
A sensible program of prevention—including the remedies of rest, nourishing foods and liquids, mental relaxation and medicine that relieve miserable physical symptoms—isn’t it better than live fish or tar barrels?