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What're the risk factors for a common cold?

Children are especially susceptible to colds because they haven't yet developed resistance to most of the viruses that cause colds. But an immature immune system isn't the only thing that makes kids vulnerable. They also tend to spend lots of time with other children and aren't always careful about washing their hands, which makes it easy for colds to spread. Both

children and adults are most susceptible to colds in fall and winter, when children are in school and most people are spending a lot of time indoors.

The risk of respiratory infections is increased by exposure to cigarette smoke, which can injure airways and damage the cilia (tiny hair-like structures that help keep the airways clear). Toxic fumes, industrial smoke, and other air pollutants are also risk factors.

People with AIDS and other medical conditions that damage the immune system are extremely susceptible to serious infections. Cancers, especially leukemia and Hodgkin's disease, put patients at risk. Patients who are on corticosteroid (steroid) treatments, chemotherapy, or other medications that suppress the immune system are also prone to infection.

Any form of stress will lower our resistance to infection by depressing the immune response. Although we may take summer holidays as a leisure activity many psychologists classify holidays as a major source of stress. All the worries about last minute parking, holiday insurance, kennels for the dog and home security can take their toll and leave us more susceptible to infection just when we want to be in top form to enjoy ourselves.

High-intensity or endurance exercises appear to suppress the immune system while they are being performed. Some highly trained athletes, for instance, report being susceptible to colds after strenuous events; very low fat diets appear to support this negative effect on the immune system. A higher fat-diet may help redress this imbalance (omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and canola oil are preferred). Whether carbohydrate loading provides much additional value is not clear.


More information on common cold

What is a common cold? - The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory system. The common cold belongs to the upper respiratory tract infections.
What causes a common cold? - The common cold is caused by numerous viruses (mainly rhinoviruses, coronaviruses) infecting the upper respiratory system.
What're the risk factors for a common cold? - Children are especially susceptible to colds. The risk of respiratory infections is increased by exposure to cigarette smoke.
What're the complications of a common cold? - The common cold poses a risk for bronchitis and pneumonia in nursing home patients and other people who may be susceptible to infection.
What're the symptoms of colds? - Symptoms of the common cold include nasal discharge, obstruction of nasal breathing, swelling of the sinus membranes, sneezing, sore throat, cough and headache.
How is a common cold diagnosed? - Doctors are usually able to diagnose a cold from the typical symptoms. There are no laboratory tests readily available to detect the cold virus.
What's the treatment for a common cold? - There are no medicines that will cure the common cold. Colds are generally treated by addressing the person's symptoms.
How to prevent a common cold? - The best way to avoid a cold is to avoid close contact with existing sufferers, to thoroughly wash hands regularly, and to avoid touching the face.
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