That runny nose and those incessant sneezes are no more than just a cold, right? What if something else is lurking beneath all those common cold symptoms? Read the following article to know when is a cold more than just a cold.
Have you got used to all those atchhhooos and have started to consider those sniffles as ever-present companions? Do those occasional chills refuse to leave for good even after a week has passed since the roof of your mouth first tingled? Well, what seems to be a long-drawn cold on the surface may have developed into something sinister over time – it could be anything, from the not-so-threatening acute sinusitis to the mortally lethal swine flu! Okay, I didn’t mean to scare you, but if fear instills awareness that could save your health (and possibly, life), I suggest that you be afraid – very afraid – and find out when is a cold more than just a cold, by paying close attention to what the rest of this article has to say!
When is it More than Just a Cold?
Under normal circumstances, how long should a cold last? Well, the usual duration of a common cold spell is about 5-7 days, which should not extend beyond 10 days under any circumstances, if the individual suffering from it is of normal health and has a fairly strong immune system. In individuals having a somewhat weaker immune system (due to weaker health as a result of existence of some other infection in his/her body or owing to administration of antibiotics, oral contraceptives or any such medication that weakens the immune system), an episode of common cold may take about two weeks to clear up. However, depending upon individual health and immunity, anything that lasts beyond the aforementioned periods should be considered more than just a cold. So what other health conditions that share many of the common cold symptoms (like fever, sore throat, runny nose, malaise, cough, headaches, etc.), can be responsible for these apparently prolonged head cold spells? Following are some of the names that are the prime suspects, that make colds last longer than usual while taking over the body under its guise.
- Acute Sinusitis: This condition shares most of the symptoms of a head cold, such as nasal congestion and runny nose, cough, fever, occasional and mild headaches, decrease in sense of smell, etc. Additional symptoms that give it away include pain and slight inflammation in the sinus regions, like the regions around the eyes and cheek areas around the nose, etc. A sore throat and nasal drip are also present more often than not.
- Seasonal Influenza: Besides all cold related symptoms, a seasonal influenza is likely to get you down with fever and chills for most part of its seasonal spell. Also, symptoms like muscle ache, fatigue, coughing and sore throat, are likely to be more intense if you have the flu. Although rare, nausea and gastroenteritis can also accompany this.
- Swine Flu: Although its incidences have reduced significantly from the pandemic proportions of the recent past, random cases of swine flu are still reported in different parts of the world. The symptoms of swine flu are more or less the same as those of a common cold and seasonal influenza. However, incidences of digestive issues such as nausea and gastrointestinal irritations, which are rare in seasonal flu, are somewhat more frequent and pronounced in swine flu compared to cold.
- Pneumonia: Although it is an infection of the lower respiratory tract and the lungs, pneumonia often causes symptoms like cough, excessive sputum and fever, which may be mistaken with those of common cold. Chest pain while coughing is usually a clear indicator that it’s more than just a cold that’s got you!
- Avian Flu: Not a common infection any more, most avian flu symptoms (such as a runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever, headache, muscle aches, etc.) are the same as common cold and seasonal flu. However, if diarrhea and breathing difficulties accompany the aforementioned symptoms, it is definitely more than a cold, and bird flu could be the real culprit.
- Acute Bronchitis: Technically a viral infection of the bronchi characterized by inflammation of the mucous membranes therein, acute bronchitis symptoms include nasal congestion, sore throat, runny nose, occasional and slight fever and increased production of sputum. However, having difficulty in breathing and a wheezing sound accompanying respiration attempts (especially while sleeping or lying on your back) indicates more towards the possibility of acute bronchitis compared to cold. Often, a prolonged spell of cold or any other upper respiratory disease can turn into acute bronchitis.
I guess that answers the question titular question in lucid detail. Next time those sniffles and wet snorts (gross… I know!) last for more than they’ve previously lasted in your case, take this extension seriously and get medical help immediately, to get rid of whatever is lurking behind the surface of those non-threatening common cold symptoms.