The common cold, also known as acute coryza, is an inflammation of upper respiratory tract. It is caused by infection with virus. It occurs in children more oftenthan all other diseases. A cold usually lasts from three to seven days. The patient feels imserable for the first three days or so.
Children are especially susceptible to this disease when they start attending playgroup or school and mix with large numbers of people in confined spaces. On an average, each child develops five colds per year. This is an essential part of growing -up. The child gains immunity to the common bacteria and viruses only by meeting, and overcoming these infections.
Section of nose and mouth :
1. nasal cavity ; 2. palate 3. tongue 4. epiglottis; 5. oesophagus; 6. respiratory passage (voice box and trachea).
The first sign of a cold are a feeling of soreness of the throat and congestion of the nasal passage. Although the disease normally begings in the nose and throat, it affects all parts of the body. The usual symptoms of common cold are a running nose, sneezing, a rise in temperature, headache, sore throat, chill, aches and pains in the body and loss of appetite. The skin around the nostrils may become sore.
In very young babies, if there is pronounced nasal congestion, the infant may experience difficulty in breathing. Breast-fed babies have difficulty in feeding due to the blockade and this may lead to vomiting. In older children, there may be recurrent case of cold, which usually sets in after six months of age and the child experiences feverish condition together with bouts of cold.
Allergic rhinitis, which usuaully sets in after the age of two or three years, denotes a sufficient period of exposure to allergens. In this case, the child has frequent bouts of sneezing and a profuse discharge of a rather clear fluid from the nose. Allergic rhinitis can again be of perennial or seasonable type. The former former occurs to a slight degree throughout the year in the child. It gets severe in the winter and arises on exposure to dust. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is rampant only in certain adverse conditions of climate, like winters of extreme cold or seasons when there is a surfeit of pollen and floral odour in the child's environment.
Viral or bacterial infections no doubt make way for onsets of common cold. But conditions like constipation and the resultant putrefaction together with the accumulating toxins provide the germs a suitable atmosphere for their existence and growth. Cold in children in reality is therefore, nature's simples form of eliminating waste matter from the system. Its main cause is virus infection associated with wrong feeding of children, especially the use of excessive quantities of starchy foods in their daily diet in the form of refined cereals, white bread, pudding and cakes as well as sugary foods in the forms of white sugar, jams and sweets.
Another important causative factor of cold in children is over clothing. To clothe a child in large number of garments is bad for that child's health, as by this the skin is not allowed to function properly and natural elimination is prevented, that gives rise to colds and bronchitis. The wearing of woolen under-garments is especially bad for young children. They should not wear wool next to the skin, but a porous cotton or linen material should be worn for comfort sake.
No drug has so far been invented to cure cold. To treat a cold by means of customary suppressive drugs like aspirin and codeine will only pave the way for further trouble of more serious nature. For such a treatment puts a sudden stop to the eliminative processs then taking place and forces the toxic matter back into the tissues again. Moreover, drugs have no effect on the duration of the cold. It has been aptly said that a cold can be cured in a week by taking medicines, otherwise it will subside in seven days.
Proper dietary control alone can prevent the appearance of cold in the child. When a cold is already present, the child should be put on the fruit juice, preferably orange or pineapple juice, for at least one day. Enema given alongside helps considerably in cleansing the bowels during this period. This may be followed by an exclusive fruit diet for a further day or two. The child tends to loose appetite even when he has a mild cold. As such, he should not be urged to eat more than what he needs. Milk and its derivaties should be avoided. Fluids like barley water, tender coconut water, sub-acid fruit juices and plain water make very good food items for the child at this stage. A hot water drink, mixed with honey is very soothing, if the child coughs or sneezes for considerable periods.
The child should avoid foods which form mucus in the system, as well as tea and coffee. He should also avoid foods which induce cattarah such as cakes, pastries, chocolates and other foods that are largely composed of white flour or white sugar.
Lime is the most important among the many home remedies for common cold. It is beneficial in all types of cold and fevers. Vitamin C-rich lime juice increases resistance, decreases toxicity and reduces the duration of illness. Half a lime should be squeezed in a glass of warm water, and a teaspoon of honey should be added to it and given to the grown-up children daily. In case of infants, half the quantities would suffice.
Garlic soup is an ancient remedy to reduce the severity of cold. Garlic contains antiseptic and antispasmodic properties, besides several other medicinal virtues. The volatile oil in this vegetable helps to open up the respiratory passages. In soup form, it flushes out the system of all toxins and thus helps bring down fever. This soup is prepared by boiling one or two cloves of garlic in half a cup of water and it can be given to the child once daily.
Ginger is another excellent remedy for colds and coughs. About five frams of this vegetable should be cut into small pieces and boiled in half a cup of water. It should then be strained and half a teaspoon of honey added to it. This mixture should be given to the child when hot.
Lady's fingers are valuable in treating irritant conditions of the throat and persistent dry coughs. This vegetable is rich in mucilage and acts as a drug to allay irritation of the skin and alleviate swelling and pain. About 50 grams of lady's fingers should be cut into pieces, and boiled in 250 ml. of water to get a decoction. The steam issuing from this decoction should be inhaled to relieve throat irritation and dry cough.
Turmeric with it antiseptic properties, is an effective remedy for colds and throat irritations. A quarter teaspoon of fresh turmeric powder mixed in 15 ml. of warm milk is a useful prescription for these conditions in children. Turmeric powder should be put into a hot ladle. Milk should then be poured in it and boiled over a slow fire. In case of a running cold, smoke from the burning turmeric should be inhaled. It will increase the discharge from the nose and will bring quick relief.
Fomentation of the sinuses of the nose with cloth dipped in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes will relieve the inflammation of the sinuses. This treatment is helpful in opening the blocked nasal passages. Stem inhalation , two or three times every day, will reduce the irritating condition of the mucous lining, facilitate the expulsion of mucus and keep the child's nasal passages clean. Hot foot bath is also beneficial. It reduces congestion by drawing blood from the upper part of the body. The procedure for this bath has been explained in the Appendix. Wet packs to the throat and chest, applied two or three times a day, will relieve congestion in these areas and help in eliminating the accumulated mucus.
The natural hydrotherapic treatments and dietary control will help the child recover most naturally. Once this is achieved, he should be allowed to build up slowly his powers of resistance by gradual exposure to cold weather and allergens.