Sedative Meds

Don’t panic: Why colds don’t need to be treated

IT MAY SEE THAT MEDICINE JUST SPOKED ABOUT THE COLD. Organ transplantation has become a routine, a new generation of effective drugs has been created for the treatment of cancer , but every winter we continue to sneeze, cough, wallow with fever, and no effective treatment has appeared. There are debates on the Internet about whether to bring down the temperature for children, whether a new medicine with unproven effectiveness helps, whether it is possible to bathe a child with a cold. We understand what ARVI is, how modern medicine relates to it and why they are so afraid of colds in Russia.   

The fact that a favorable environment for infection is developing. Many people breathe the same air in a room with closed windows (that is, without sufficient ventilation), transmitting viruses to each other, and heating helps dry the mucous membranes. A couple of years ago, scientists were able to demonstrate a more active multiplication of rhinovirus in a cell culture cooled to 33 degrees, but it is not known whether such an effect is observed in animals or humans and whether the nasal mucosa can cool to such a temperature in ordinary life.  

Why in different countries to the cold are different 

The Soviet habit of treating colds with a kind of sacred trepidation has survived to this day. In Russia, the patient generally “likes to be treated” and maintains a vicious circle of ineffective prescriptions: people often think that a good doctor must prescribe more drugs. What these drugs are is often a big question. Even an associate professor or professor at a medical school may well talk in lectures about treatment with methods devoid of a scientific basis, such as homeopathy or urine therapy.   

Soviet medicine has taught many to call an ambulance at a temperature of 39 degrees or go to the hospital “just in case.” When we get sick, we go to extremes: we do not walk, do not bathe and stay at home until the symptoms disappear completely. In the West, the attitude towards diseases and their prevention is simpler. For example, in England you can see how children in shorts and golfs are taken outside to play snowballs. As a result of this approach, children quickly (in the first couple of years of life) exchange all possible viruses, are immunized and gradually stop getting sick. 

If it was not possible to avoid infection, then they hardly begin to sound the alarm. In Europe and America, snot and cough are not considered a disease, and children are taken to school after 1-2 days without a high fever. Arriving at a Spanish kindergarten for a child, you can hear from the teacher: “There was a temperature of 38, but since it did not rise to 38.5, we did not call and bother you.” In France, adults kiss each other on the cheeks when they meet, and then they can admit that they have a cold. What can we say about hospitalization – it is expensive and is provided only with strict indications. 

Is there an effective prevention of ARVI

One of the types of ARVI is the flu caused by the virus of the same name; the flu can be difficult and lead to serious complications (up to and including death). But against the flu, unlike other colds, there are vaccines. This is the most effective way to prevent influenza. Vaccination should be repeated annually, preferably in the fall. In Russia, the cost of vaccination is covered by the compulsory health insurance system, and in 2016 in Moscow it was possible to get vaccinated at mobile vaccination points located about twenty-four metro stations. It is especially important not to forget about the annual vaccination if you have children, elderly parents, if someone in the family suffers from chronic diseases. During pregnancy, it is also recommended to get a flu shot if the vaccination season coincides with the second or third trimester. The vaccine is safe for pregnant women and protects not only the mother, but also the baby for several months after birth.      

There are no vaccinations against other acute respiratory viral infections, but they are, fortunately, not as difficult and dangerous as the flu. Given that the main cause of colds is a virus, for prevention, it is advisable to avoid cramped and poorly ventilated rooms with a large number of people. It is clear that for a person who uses the metro every day, this is a utopia, but at least at home (and, if possible, at work), you need to open windows more often and ventilate the room. Do not forget about such basic aspects of a healthy lifestyle as physical activity, smoking cessation, a varied diet, adequate fluid intake, good hygiene (washing hands, using disposable handkerchiefs), and quality sleep. Vitamin C does not prevent colds, although some reports suggest it can shorten the duration.   

Do I need to treat a cold

Colds are known to go away in a week if treated, and in seven days if not. A week is an average indicator, and ARVI usually lasts from a couple of days to one and a half weeks, and there really is no specific (aimed at destroying the virus) treatment. But this does not mean that you cannot alleviate your condition and reduce the severity of symptoms. The basics of treating a cold are resting, drinking fluids, rinsing the nose with saline, or “sea water” sold in pharmacies (they are the same thing). Breathing relieves humid and cool air, so it is worth ventilating the room more often. Steam inhalation is good for moisturizing mucous membranes, but shouldn’t be torture like sitting over a pot of hot potatoes; just breathe over the humidifier or in the shower. A humidifier can save the nasal and throat mucosa from dryness and increased susceptibility to viruses, and at the same time improve the condition of hair and skin. While studies have not shown the beneficial effects of hot inhalation and sauna use for colds, cool, humid air is known to relieve nasal congestion and coughs.          

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are effective at high temperatures. It is believed that at temperatures up to 38.5 degrees, antipyretics can be omitted. In the end, a rise in temperature is a sign of activation of the immune system, the body’s defense system. In children, the temperature can quickly rise even to 39-40 degrees, but if you manage to reduce it with paracetamol, then you don’t have to worry; In the early days of a cold, the fever may be persistent, and then paracetamol and ibuprofen are prescribed every four hours, alternating between them. Very often, to reduce the heat, it is enough to undress and take a warm shower, and then allow the body to air dry. Due to the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect, NSAIDs also relieve symptoms such as headaches and muscle aches.  

It is important to combat dehydration, because when the temperature rises, the body loses fluid. Doctors recommend drinking more water and clear liquids such as tea, broth, and apple juice. Temperature – at your discretion; cold drinks and ice cream do not complicate the course of a cold and even often help to eliminate a sore throat. But if warm tea with raspberries is the only thing that you can force yourself to consume during ARVI, drink it to your health (especially since raspberries contain salicylates, derivatives of aspirin). The main thing is to avoid dehydration.     

With a stuffy nose, you can use vasoconstrictor drugs based on oxymetazoline or xylometazoline (like Otrivin or Nazivin), but they should be treated with caution. On the packaging of most of these drugs, you can now find a recommendation not to use them more than twice a day and longer than three days, and for children under six years old in Europe, vasoconstrictor drops and sprays are not allowed at all. Remember to rinse your nose with saline. Antihistamines (antiallergic) drugs also help relieve mucosal edema, which often causes nasal congestion. Many complex anti-cold remedies (like Fervex in Russia and DayQuil in America) contain NSAIDs, an antihistamine, and an expectorant component. These over-the-counter drugs are also safe during pregnancy , provided they are taken in a short course.  

What not to do with a cold 

Do not take antibiotics unless prescribed by your doctor. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, not viral infections, so they are at least useless for colds. Remember that the green color of snot does not indicate the bacterial nature of the infection, but is due to the accumulation of leukocytes. There is no need to try to strengthen the immune system with OTC “immunomodulators” or “immunostimulants”. Interferons and other agents that affect the immune system are effectively used for serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis or melanoma. But the uncontrolled use of drugs “to strengthen the immune system” for colds at best will not be beneficial, and at worst can harm the immune system.     

There is no need to panic and call an ambulance, even if the high temperature in an adult or child persists for several days and decreases only for a while after taking antipyretics. This is a normal course of a cold, in which the body is actively fighting a foreign virus. Seek emergency help if the fever persists for more than five days, does not go away under the influence of NSAIDs, and if you observe the child has seizures or dehydration. Difficulty breathing and wheezing is also a reason to see a doctor. Try not to tolerate ARVI, and especially the flu, “on your feet”, because peace is one of the important conditions for a speedy recovery. 

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