The Common Cold Essay

This essay has a total of 1854 words and 11 pages.

The Common Cold

The common cold has been plaguing humankind
since the beginning of human existence. Even in
these advanced times, there is no vaccine or cure.
There are many symptoms that accompany the
common cold. Some of these infamous symptoms
are a runny nose, caused by inflammation of the
nasal tissues, resulting in over production of mucus
to trap the virus, and coughing. there are two
different kinds or types of coughs that are
common with colds. The first, is the less common
dry hacking cough, these kinds are more likely to
keep you up at night and just plainly annoy you
than do any thing else. The other more common
type of cough is the kind whose purpose is to
expel mucus and or phlegm. These help to combat
the cold by helping to expel the mucus that has the
virus trapped in it. Other symptoms include a slight
tingle or tickle in the back of the throat that usually
turns into a sore throat and sneezing. Both of these
symptoms are was for your body to help expel
phlegm or mucus from the body. Another
symptom is swelling of the face and or neck
usually accompanied by pain around the eyes,
nose, and forehead. This pain and swelling is
caused by the introduction of the virus into your
upper respiratory tract, therefore causing mucus
building up in your nasal passages and then in your
sinuses causing them both to become impacted.
Many people complain of hoarseness, aches and
pains in their joints, fever of about 101 degrees,
and general aches and pains all over their bodies
(Anthanasoid). There are at least two hundred
different kinds of viruses that are known to cause
what is known as the common cold, and an
unknown number of undiscovered causes (Nourse
56). The virus who is usually responsible for a
cold is called a rhinovirus, and it accounts for
around thirty to fifty percent of all colds that afflict
the adult part of the human population. The virus
that is secondly responsible for most common
colds, is called a coronavirus, and it is only
different form a rhinovirus by a margin of few
select proteins in it's molecular structure. The
rhinovirus is so small that it can only be measured
in milimicrons, one milimicron is about
1/25,000,000 of an inch, that means that about
five hundred rhioviruses can fit on the point of a
pin. That fact makes the rhinovirus and the
coronavirus categorized in the medium territory.
The virus cannot reproduce by itself. In fact
scientists cannot even decide whether to classify it
as an animal or a plant, because it is so primitive.
To reproduce, the virus must first latch onto a
nearby cell and inject it's genetic makeup into the
cell. It then tells the cell to make as many viruses
as it can, using the chemicals inside of the cell. The
cell keep producing viruses until the outer cell wall
explodes releasing all of the new viruses into the
bloodstream. The best part about many of the
viruses that cause colds is that they are self
limiting. That means that after the virus reproduces
so much it just stops and dies. In the case of
common colds, the virus runs it's course in about
ten to fourteen days. Because it kills itself, the
infected person's immune system doesn't realy
have to do anything except maybe keep it in their
upper respiratory track. There have been
documented cases when a cold actually
inadvertently killed someone. In these rare cases,
the viral infection lead to a bacterial infection in the
middle ear and therefore lead to death. This is why
if your ears hurt, you should see a doctor
immediately (Knight 10-15, 23-25). There are
many misconceptions about the spread of the
common cold. For one thing, a person who
doesn't cover their mouth when coughing and or
sneezing, is not necessarily spreading their cold
says John Poppy (104). Another article in the
"Mayo Clinic Health Letter" stated that coughing
and sneezing is one of the things that spreads the
cold virus the most. The reasoning behind that is,
the cough or sneeze spreads the viral particles all
around. Then people touch the spot that has one
of these particles on it with their hands and rub
their hands on their nose and mouth. This action
spreads the cold even further. This same article
said that kissing doesn't necessarily spread the
cold virus (1-2). Laurie Tarkan says that the main
way that the cold virus is spread is through
touching of the nose and mouth, like the Mayo
Clinic Letter. She also stated that the reason that
colds seam to flourish in the winter is that people
tend to group together in schools and in homes,
therefor spreading the virus throughout the
population. Also more people tend to fly durring
the winter. In order to keep the cabin pressurized,
the airplane circulates the air, and that means that
if one person has a cold and coughs then the
whole plane will have a great chance to become
infected. Also at higher altitudes, the air seriously
dries out the nasal membrane in the nose and
therefore make a person more susceptible to the
virus. Because of this, experts like Laurie Tarkan
suggest to drink allot of water while flying in an
airplane, about eight ounces for every hour that
you are on the airplane (202, The Common Cold
2). There is only one possible way to stay totally
healthy during the winter. That is to be locked in a
room underground and not see anyone until the
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