What is the common cold?
The common cold is a mild infection of your upper respiratory tract (which includes your nose and throat). Colds are probably the most common illness. Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more. Colds are more common in the winter and spring, but you can get them at any time.What causes the common cold?
More than 200 different viruses can cause a cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common type. The viruses that cause colds are very contagious. They can spread from person to person through the air and close personal contact. You can also get infected when you touch something that has the virus on it and then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose. For example, you could get a cold after you shake hands with someone who has a cold or touch a doorknob that has the germs on it, and then touch your face.What are the symptoms of the common cold?
The symptoms of a common cold usually include:
The symptoms usually start a few days after you become infected with the virus. Some symptoms can last for 10-14 days.What are the treatments for the common cold?
There is no cure for the common cold. But there are treatments that can make you feel better while you wait for the cold to go away on its own:
Antibiotics will not help with a cold. Antibiotics help with bacterial infections, not with viral infections such as colds.
Most people who have a cold will feel better after a week or two. However, some people who get a cold may develop other illnesses, such as bronchitis or pneumonia. This is more common in people with weakened immune systems, asthma, or other respiratory conditions. Contact your provider if you or your child have symptoms that concern you, such as:
There is no vaccine to protect against the common cold. But you may be able to reduce your risk of getting or spreading a cold by:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What is pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs. It causes the air sacs of the lungs to fill up with fluid or pus. It can range from mild to severe, depending on the type of germ causing the infection, your age, and your overall health.What causes pneumonia?
Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections can cause pneumonia.
Bacteria are the most common cause. Bacterial pneumonia can occur on its own. It can also develop after you've had certain viral infections such as a cold or the flu. Several different types of bacteria can cause pneumonia, including:
Viruses that infect the respiratory tract may cause pneumonia. Viral pneumonia is often mild and goes away on its own within a few weeks. But sometimes it is serious enough that you need to get treatment in a hospital. If you have viral pneumonia, you are at risk of also getting bacterial pneumonia. The different viruses that can cause pneumonia include:
Fungal pneumonia is more common in people who have chronic health problems or weakened immune systems. Some of the types include:
Anyone can get pneumonia, but certain factors can increase your risk:
The symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild to severe and include:
The symptoms can vary for different groups. Newborns and infants may not show any signs of the infection. Others may vomit and have a fever and cough. They might seem sick, with no energy, or be restless.
Older adults and people who have serious illnesses or weak immune systems may have fewer and milder symptoms. They may even have a lower than normal temperature. Older adults who have pneumonia sometimes have sudden changes in mental awareness.What other problems can pneumonia cause?
Sometimes pneumonia can cause serious complications such as:
Sometimes pneumonia can be hard to diagnose. This is because it can cause some of the same symptoms as a cold or the flu. It may take time for you to realize that you have a more serious condition.
Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:
If you are in the hospital, have serious symptoms, are older, or have other health problems, you may also have more tests, such as:
Treatment for pneumonia depends on the type of pneumonia, which germ is causing it, and how severe it is:
You may need to be treated in a hospital if your symptoms are severe or if you are at risk for complications. While there, you may get additional treatments. For example, if your blood oxygen level is low, you may receive oxygen therapy.
It may take time to recover from pneumonia. Some people feel better within a week. For other people, it can take a month or more.Can pneumonia be prevented?
Vaccines can help prevent pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria or the flu virus. Having good hygiene, not smoking, and having a healthy lifestyle may also help prevent pneumonia.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
During pregnancy, some common infections like the common cold or a skin infection do not usually cause serious problems. But other infections can be dangerous to you, your baby, or both. Some infections may lead to preterm birth and low birth weight babies. Others can cause serious illness, birth defects, and lifelong disabilities, such as hearing loss or learning problems.
Some of the infections that can be dangerous during pregnancy include:
To try to prevent infections,:
If you do get an infection during pregnancy, contact your health care provider about how best to protect you and your baby. Only some medicines are safe during pregnancy.
What is asthma?
Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease. It affects your airways, the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. When you have asthma, your airways can become inflamed and narrowed. This can cause wheezing, coughing, and tightness in your chest. When these symptoms get worse than usual, it is called an asthma attack or flare-up.What causes asthma?
The exact cause of asthma is unknown. Genetics and your environment likely play a role in who gets asthma.
An asthma attack can happen when you are exposed to an asthma trigger. An asthma trigger is something that can set off or worsen your asthma symptoms. Different triggers can cause different types of asthma:
Asthma triggers may be different for each person and can change over time.Who is at risk for asthma?
Asthma affects people of all ages, but it often starts during childhood. Certain factors can raise your risk of having asthma:
The symptoms of asthma include:
These symptoms can range from mild to severe. You may have them every day or only once in a while.
When you are having an asthma attack, your symptoms get much worse. The attacks may come on gradually or suddenly. Sometimes they can be life-threatening. They are more common in people who have severe asthma. If you are having asthma attacks, you may need a change in your treatment.How is asthma diagnosed?
Your health care provider may use many tools to diagnose asthma:
If you have asthma, you will work with your health care provider to create a treatment plan. The plan will include ways to manage your asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. It will include:
If you have a severe attack and the short-term relief medicines do not work, you will need emergency care.
Your provider may adjust your treatment until asthma symptoms are controlled.
Sometimes asthma is severe and cannot be controlled with other treatments. If you are an adult with uncontrolled asthma, in some cases your provider might suggest bronchial thermoplasty. This is a procedure that uses heat to shrink the smooth muscle in the lungs. Shrinking the muscle reduces your airway's ability to tighten and allows you to breathe more easily. The procedure has some risks, so it's important to discuss them with your provider.
Coughing is a reflex that keeps your throat and airways clear. Although it can be annoying, coughing helps your body heal or protect itself. Coughs can be either acute or chronic. Acute coughs begin suddenly and usually last no more than 2 to 3 weeks. Acute coughs are the kind you most often get with a cold, flu, or acute bronchitis. Chronic coughs last longer than 2 to 3 weeks. Causes of chronic cough include:
Water can help ease your cough - whether you drink it or add it to the air with a steamy shower or vaporizer. If you have a cold or the flu, antihistamines may work better than non-prescription cough medicines. Children under four should not have cough medicine. For children over four, use caution and read labels carefully.