HealthExpert Talk: Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr Anita Mathew Explains Common Colds &...

Expert Talk: Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr Anita Mathew Explains Common Colds & How You Can Treat & Prevent Them

The cold season brings along a host of diseases along with the festive season and merriment. The common cold, including chest cold and head cold, and seasonal flu are caused by viruses. And with the ongoing pandemic, its symptoms can be mistaken for the coronavirus easily. So what are the symptoms of the common cold and how do you get relief from it?

We talked to Physician & Infectious Disease Specialist Dr Anita Mathew, Senior Consultant at Fortis Hospital in Mumbai and she shared tips on recognizing the difference between a cold and the coronavirus, busts some common myths and how to prevent it in the first place.

1. What are the symptoms of a common cold?

The symptoms generally range from sneezing, runny and blocked nose, headache, fever, throat pain and cough.

2. How long does a common cold last? 

The common cold generally lasts between 5 -7 days. It begins with sneezing, having a runny nose and goes on to progress accordingly to fever and headache. The cough gets better in 5 to 7 days but some patients may continue to have the cough for a few more days.

3. How to differentiate between a common cold & atypical COVID-19 symptoms?

Some symptoms of a common cold are:

  • Sneezing 
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Fever may occur
  • Cough and expectoration
  • Lack of taste and smell is relative
  • Fatigue

Symptoms of COVID19 are:

  • Sneezing is uncommon
  • Stuffy and runny nose is noticed to be common 
  • Fever is generally present
  • Cough is excessive, especially dry cough
  • Complete lack of taste & smell
  • Extreme fatigue & body ache

However, it’s difficult to completely differentiate between the two.

4. Is there a cure for the common cold? Will a cold go away by itself?

Most viruses are self-eliminating, the virus causing common cold is no different, and a virus like Influenza mutates hence it is not needed to visit a doctor. There is no medicine except symptomatic medication that is recommended.

5. Should you stay home if you have a cold, especially in the pandemic? 

Stay home if you have a cold. It is always better to rest but one can carry out routine activities which one can manage. Your body will tell you what it’s up for. 

6. Is rest good for a cold? What are the signs a cold is going away?

Yes, rest is good. Remember, resting is not equal to sleeping all day, one can be reasonably active.

The signs your cold is going away are:

  • Headaches go away
  • Body ache subsides 
  • Fever comes down
  • Energy levels improve

7. What are some ways to help you work better and sleep comfortably at night when you have a cold?

  • Take warm fluids like warm beverages, soups and eat well
  • You can use lozenges for throat 
  • Try nasal saline drops for blocked nose
  • Do steam inhalation

8. What are some precautions to prevent the contraction and spread of this infection?

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthily
  • Wash hands
  • Avoid walking in crowded offices if one is sick
  • Take flu shots
  • Avoid crowds to prevent the spread of germs

10 Yoga Poses To Boost Your Respiratory Health

Dr Anita Mathew suggests exercising in moderation to help with a common cold.

1. Virasana (Hero Pose)

It’s a classical seated yoga posture that stretches thighs and ankles while improving posture. It is one of the most traditional postures effective for breathing exercises. It helps in spinal alignment with slouching posture and allows for better breathing.

2. Supta Virasana (Recycling Hero Pose)  

It stretches for the front of the body, including the thighs, lungs, chest, foot, and abdominal muscles. It helps in alleviating digestive problems by massaging the abdominal organs. Other benefits include realignment of rounded shoulder, stimulation of the thyroid and parathyroid glands, toning of the spinal nerve and make the back flexible. Regular practices of Supta Virasana will Increase the elasticity of lung tissue.

3. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog Pose) 

It helps relieve the tension in lungs, shoulders, chest and buttocks. It is a great remedy for sciatica, depression, fatigue and asthma. It helps in strengthening the spine, arm and wrist like most of the body weight is borne by them. It also stretches the back and relieves the body of lower backache.

4. Bhramari Pranayama (Humming Bee Breath) 

The first step towards self-healing is breathing and understanding the technique affects positively on our thoughts and moods. This pranayama teaches to keep our breath still so that we can stabilize and de-stress our mind.

5. Matsyasana (Fish Pose/Reclining Back-Bending Pose) 

It is also known as the destroyer of all kinds of diseases. It can stimulate the spine, rib cage as well as the lungs, thereby relieving signs of fatigue and anxiety. The dorsal region and the torso are fully expanded hence, breathing becomes fuller.

6. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

It has proven to be beneficial for people with respiratory disorders. It requires an active process of inhalation and exhalation; therefore, it helps the lungs to remain constantly ventilated and the blood oxygenated.

7. Virabhadrasana (Warrior Pose) 

It was named after Veerabhadra, a fierce warrior and an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It helps in strengthening the arms, shoulders, thighs and back muscles. Opens the chest cavity, improving the elasticity of the lungs.

8. Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) 

It is the very first asana when practising yoga. A classic standing posture that helps in stretching the entire body. It helps in opening your chest, lungs and heart. Conscious equilibrium to the body and mind.

9. Kapalbhati (Breath Of Fire) 

It helps to cleanse the lungs, sinuses, and respiratory system. Regular practice strengthens the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.

10. Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Breathing) 

It purifies the subtle energy channels of the body and helps in easing breathing troubles. The body receives a larger amount of oxygen than normal breathing. It helps in improving lung function and respiratory endurance.

Disclaimer: This is for the general information of the readers.  Always consult a doctor for specific health problems. 

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