This way you prevent a debilitating cold

A cold means that the respiratory tract is infected with a virus. In principle, it is a harmless disease, which usually goes away on its own after a week, and the symptoms are less than with flu. How can you prevent yourself from becoming infected with the cold virus? And what can you do to quickly get rid of that annoying, debilitating cold if the virus does strike?

Cause of cold

You are more likely to catch a cold if you are extra susceptible, due to factors such as over-fatigue or poor nutrition. So if your overall fitness is reduced. It is often claimed that if you are not properly dressed against the cold or are exposed to a draft, you will catch a cold, but that is not the case. So you cannot be infected by the virus just by being cold. It is true that your resistance can be reduced by constantly suffering from the cold, which makes it easier for the virus to strike. The common cold is a contagious condition, for example it is transmitted by shaking a hand that has just stopped a cough. And sneezing without shielding the mouth can also lead to infection in someone else. A cold weakens the body’s resistance. This gives other viruses and bacteria the opportunity to also attack. This is followed by a second (more serious) infection with, for example, bronchitis, flu, etc.
You can therefore prevent a cold to some extent by building up good resistance through healthy eating, regular living and adequate sleep. And by staying away from people who already have a cold and could transmit the infection.

Symptoms and complaints

Colds are often accompanied by a stuffy nose, coughing and sneezing. In addition, there may also be a slight elevation, watery eyes, cold sores, earache, sore throat, painful lymph nodes in the neck. The forehead and maxillary sinuses often become inflamed, which can cause headaches and toothache. If you already have chronic shortness of breath or asthma, you can become extra short of breath due to a cold. Additional shortness of breath can also occur in infants.

Doctor and children

Of course, you have to be extra careful with small children. It is always wise to consult the doctor if the little one:

  • is younger than 4 months and has a fever of 38 degrees or more for more than 1 day,
  • is younger than 6 months and has an earache or cough,
  • is older than 6 months and has a cough for more than 5 days,
  • is 6 to 24 months old and has ear pain for more than 24 hours,
  • is older than 2 years and has an earache for more than 3 days.

Do not give children painkillers containing acetylsalicylic acid. Children with chicken pox or flu symptoms should under no circumstances ingest this substance, due to an increased risk of Reye’s syndrome. A paracetamol is okay

Doctor and adults

In principle, consult your doctor if:

  • fever for more than 5 days,
  • in case of shortness of breath and coughing up a lot of mucus,
  • (unilateral) pain in the upper jaw for more than 5 days, toothache, chewing pain, or pain when bending over,
  • there is a second temperature increase.



  • Blowing your nose too often and too intensively irritates the nasal mucosa and leads to contaminated mucus entering the ears and sinuses. Actually, collecting mucus is wiser than blowing your nose.
  • Steaming under a towel may be pleasant and relieving, but there is no evidence that it helps. In any case, steaming is not recommended for young children.
  • Colds cannot be cured faster with medicines; it’s just a matter of getting sick. Only the symptoms can be alleviated.
  • If you have fever and pain, take paracetamol.


Stuffy nose and coughing

A pharmacist has suitable remedies (often saline solutions) for both adults and children that can combat nasal congestion. Nasal drops can be counterproductive if used for long periods of time and can even cause damage to the nasal mucosa. Do not use for more than 7 days in a row. There are soothing cough suppressants for irritating coughs.

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