Cold: basics and causes

What exactly is a cold?

A cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, associated with runny nose, sneezing and coughing. Sometimes other organs such as eyes, ears, nose, paranasal sinuses or the lymph nodes on the neck are affected by the colonization and multiplication of the common cold viruses.

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What is the difference between cold, flu and influenza?

Popularly these three terms are often mixed together, although they mean different. The flu - also known as real, seasonal or influenza flu - is caused by influenza viruses and is typically characterized by more or less severe disease. It can even be a potential life threat, especially for old people and infants.

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How many colds per year are still normal?

Colds are the most common "disease" ever. Although they make us and our children increasingly hard in the fall and winter, they can occur with children all year round - and with high frequency.

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How can you prevent a cold?

Granny would say, it's more in the fresh air. And she is right. Although there is no sure concept to avoid colds. Nevertheless, a few rules of conduct help to reduce the risk of illness:

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How do children get into a cold?

The infection with the common cold viruses is usually carried out by droplet infection, ie by sneezing, coughing or talking. Contact items which have been wetted with the virus-containing droplet secretion are also among the more frequent sources of infection, for example toys, handkerchiefs or unwashed hands.

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Does taking vitamin C protect you from a cold?

An old issue. The long-standing assumption that the additional intake of vitamin C protects against colds, has not been confirmed in scientific studies. A vitamin-rich diet in solid and liquid form (for example freshly squeezed lemon and orange juice) is absolutely sensible. But you do not have to swallow expensive pills. And your children too.

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Why is it often a cold after visiting the swimming pool?

Intimate body contact and a moist ambience - in the swimming pool, pathogens of various kinds feel well and sometimes find optimal conditions for their transfer. In addition, there is a reduced resistance to the so-called skin barrier due to the water.

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Why are children more likely to catch colds than adults?

At the beginning of life, the human immune system is still largely naïve, that is, it has to become more familiar with the foreign substances and pathogens of the environment (antigens). Only through exposure to the numerous viruses and bacteria (or vaccines based on them) can it form specific antibodies to protect against subsequent attacks and build up an immunological memory.

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Which pathogens trigger a cold?

In most cases, a cold is caused by viruses, for which well over 100 different types of viruses come into question. Hypothermia of the body or its parts is likely to be one of the factors favoring a cold, as well as stress and immune deficiency.

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Does the flu vaccine protect you from a cold?

No. The flu vaccine only protects against the real flu. But it has nothing in common with a cold and also the pathogens are different.In this respect, the commonly used term "influenza infection" is more misleading for a cold.

Read more: Does the flu shot protect you from a cold?