The various biological afflictions and symptoms thereof that come under the umbrella term cold in non medical parlance are mostly viral infections. Cold, in a layman's term, can be classified into two variants - head cold and chest cold. Being viral infections, both types of colds take their own sweet time and last for anything between a week to a couple of months, depending which part of the respiratory tract it affects. While head cold is nothing but the common cold in which the two prime culprits - rhinovirus and coronavirus - attack the nasopharyngeal area of the upper respiratory tract, chest cold is a somewhat complex form of common cold that affects the lower respiratory tract that covers the chest region. The onset of a chest cold is often a sign of an approaching case of acute bronchitis. Let's take a look at the various aspects of both kinds of cold starting from the pathogens involved to respective symptoms and treatment in order to be able to draw clear lines of distinction between both.
Head Cold vs Chest Cold - Dissected Details
The ensuing paragraphs outline and juxtapose the various details pertaining to both types of cold so that the mutual differences become easy to perceive. The following segment comprises four sub-heads to provide a clearer contrast between the two and allow the readers easy comprehension.
Affected Regions of the Respiratory Tract
Common cold affects the nasopharyngeal region of the upper respiratory tract. The back of the nose, far inside regions on the roof of the mouth and throat is where the irritation is primarily felt. The virus which causes head cold infects the region starting from the back of the nose and extending all the way along the back of the throat causing inflammation therein. This results in sore throat and that typical itch like sensation at the far end of the palate, accompanied by excessive production of mucus resulting in runny nose. Chest cold, on the other hand, is caused by viral infection in the lower respiratory tract leading to inflammation therein and production of excessive mucus that leads to partial obstruction of the bronchioles due to accumulation of infected mucus therein. The symptoms are akin to those of acute bronchitis. In fact, a chest cold is often a harbinger of acute bronchitis.
While common cold is caused as a result of invasion of your body by rhinoviruses and coronaviruses, chest cold may be caused by adeniviruses, influenza viruses and certain bacteria (those that cause pneumonia and whooping cough) besides rhinoviruses. As much as 90% of the chest cold cases are attributed to viral infection.
Symptoms of Head and Chest Cold
Head cold is symptomized by the presence of sore throat, runny nose, mild fever, cough, nasal congestion, pain in the muscles and, occasionally, the joints, loss of appetite (making most foods taste bland), slight chills and a heavy headed feeling. Frequent sneezing and dry coughing may also accompany if the cold is caused by exposure to allergens. Chest cold, on the other hand, is symptomized by wheezing, strenuous breathing, chest congestion and pain or slight burning sensation in the chest when breathing or coughing, fever, shortness of breath, productive cough which may or may not be accompanied by thick sputum (yellowish green, indicative of increase in infection), sore throat, tightness in the chest, etc. Certain symptoms may overlap with those of influenza such as fever, malaise, headache, etc.
Chest Cold vs Head Cold Treatment
Chest cold may be treated by administering NSAIDs (to relieve inflammation of the lower respiratory tract), decongestants and/ or expectorants (to loosen the mucus and help in its expulsion from the mouth), paracetamols and analgesics (to ease fever and body ache) and cough suppressants (to soothe cough). Antibiotics should be administered only after ascertaining bacterial infection on diagnosis based on testing physiological samples (such as sputum). In case of a head cold, besides decongestants, analgesics and paracetamols, antihistamines may also be administered to soothe symptoms like continuously running nose and dry cough or frequent sneezing and watering eyes.
As both forms of cold are caused by viral infection (well, mostly), the best way to cure the condition is to boost up and activate the immune system to speed up the annihilation process of the viral pathogens. For this purpose, taking Vitamin C and zinc supplements and eating nutritious food rich in antioxidants, proteins and minerals is strongly recommended. Drinking lots of water also makes sure that the fluids lost via the expelled mucus are replenished. Also, drinking lots of water helps the body flush out a significant amount of infection as well as any excess chemicals or medications from the body, preventing a lot of undesirable side effects from manifesting.