Risk Factors of Common Cold

It is almost impossible to prevent common cold completely. There is no effective vaccine which can effectively prevent common cold. General measures also can not prevent the infection completely. But there are certain risk factors, which can increase the risk of infection by common cold causing viruses. By reducing the risk factors and by understanding the common cold, it is possible to reduce the incidence of common cold in an individual and reduce suffering due to common cold.

There are some habits among individuals which can increase the risk of common cold infection and it is important to eliminate the bad habits which can lead to increase incidence of common cold and other health problems and thereby increase suffering from common health ailments such as common cold. Some risk factors are modifiable and some are non-modifiable.

What are the risk factors of common cold?

There are several risk factors and factors which help to spread infection from one infected person to another normal person. The risk factors are discussed below:

  • Habits such as touching eyes, nose and mouth can spread the virus from hand, where they are harmless to nasal mucosa, where they can initiate infection and common cold. Even brief contact with contaminated objects can introduce infection.
  • Remaining in the same room with an infected person may transmit common cold. Sneezing and coughing produce droplets (with large numbers of viruses) which floats in the air and if an individual breaths in the air, may get infection.
  • Common cold is a seasonal disease occurring more frequently during winter months. The reason may be due to spending more time indoor with individuals who may have common cold infection. The role of cold in causation of common cold is not clear and doubtful, contrary to common belief.
  • Individuals with strong immune system tend to develop common cold more commonly than individuals with comparatively weaker immune system (which is contrary to general understanding of immune system). This is because, the symptoms of the disease is caused due to strong immune response to the infecting virus and not directly by the virus. Individuals with comparatively weaker immune system, when get infected with common cold viruses, may not produce symptoms de to relatively weak immunological response against the virus. These asymptomatic individuals are responsible for most of the common cold infections, as people are unaware of the infection in these individuals.
  • There are other factors which can increase incidence of common cold infection among individuals, such as smoking (increases the risk of infection as well as increase the duration of illness), sleeping less (less than 6-7 hors a day), low humidity in the environment etc.
  • Children are at higher risk of common cold due to absence of immune resistance against most viruses and as they grow old, they slowly start developing resistance.

The role of cold in causing common cold is controversial (this is the most common explanation by people about the disease), although it may be one of the risk factors of common cold. There are some studies which suggest that cold may have a role in casing common cold. In some studies it was seen that approximately 105 of people exposed to cold develop common cold symptoms. But other studies do not show such effects.

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