Cold season is upon us at CDCR. No matter how vital your mission, you are not immune. (Some areas of CDCR already are reporting cold outbreaks.)

Here is some common sense advice and facts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

A cold usually includes a runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, and coughing. These symptoms can last for up to two weeks.

  • More than 200 viruses can cause the common cold
  • The rhinovirus is the most common type of virus that causes colds

Runny nose during a cold

When germs that cause colds first infect the nose and sinuses, the nose makes clear mucus. This helps wash the germs from the nose and sinuses. After two or three days, the body’s immune cells fight back, changing the mucus to a white or yellow color. As the bacteria that live in the nose grow back, they may also be found in the mucus, which changes the mucus to a greenish color. This is normal and does not mean you need antibiotics.

Signs and symptoms of the common cold

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild headache
  • Mild body aches

See a healthcare provider if you have:

  • Temperature higher than 100.4° F
  • Symptoms that last more than 10 days
  • Symptoms that are not relieved by over-the-counter medicines

Your healthcare provider can determine if you have a cold and can recommend symptomatic therapy. If your child has a cold, is younger than 3 months of age and has a fever, it’s important to always call your healthcare provider right away.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are need only if your healthcare provider tells you that you have a bacterial infection. Your healthcare provider may prescribe other medicine or give tips to help with a cold’s symptoms, but antibiotics are not needed to treat a cold or runny nose.

Since the common cold is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help it get better.  A runny nose or cold almost always gets better on its own, so it is better to wait and take antibiotics only when they are needed. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed can be harmful.

Each time you or your child takes an antibiotic, the bacteria that normally live in your body (on the skin, in the intestine, in the mouth and nose, etc.) are more likely to become resistant to antibiotics. Common antibiotics cannot kill infections caused by these resistant germs.

How to feel better

Rest, over-the-counter medicines and other self-care methods may help you or feel better. Remember, always use over-the-counter products as directed.  Many over-the-counter products are not recommended for children younger than certain ages.

Prevention

  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Avoid close contact with people who have colds or other upper respiratory infection

Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.

If soap and water are readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to clean hands.

Right way to wash your hands

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold) and apply soap.
  • Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Knowing what a cold is, as well as what a cold isn’t, can help you to get a jump on the cold season. There’s no time like the present to take advantage of preventative measures to help you minimize your risk for coming down with a cold this season. It’s really as easy as a little soap and water.