Sniffles, cough, sore throat… these can be symptoms of any number of conditions, but are often a byproduct of the common cold.
Colds are the result of more than 200 different viruses, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Adults experience an average of two to three colds per year, and rhinoviruses cause most of them. The American Lung Association states that colds are minor infections of the nose and throat. Despite typically producing only mild illness, colds account for more visits to the doctor than any other condition in the United States. People will experience many colds in their lifetimes, and the following true or false quiz can test their knowledge about them.
- Colds are highly contagious. True: Colds most often spread when droplets of fluid that contain the cold virus are transferred by touch or inhaled.
- Cold weather or being chilled causes colds. False: While many colds occur during seasons when the weather is cold, transmission is likely higher then due to people staying indoors, and thus closer to one another, when temperatures dip. But the cold air itself has nothing to do with the cold.
- Antibiotics are a known remedy for a cold. False: Antibiotics treat bacterial infections, while colds are viral. That means antibiotics will be ineffective at helping a person recover from a cold.
- Rhinoviruses that cause colds also can trigger asthma attacks. True: These rhinoviruses also have been linked to sinus and ear infections.
- Colds are sometimes serious for people. True: People with weakened immune systems, asthma, or conditions that affect the lungs and breathing passages may develop serious conditions, even pneumonia, from colds that linger.
- Colds can’t be caught from shaking hands. False: Colds can be transferred through touch, including shaking hands. It’s recommended to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- You feed a cold and starve a fever. False: Harvard Medical School says there is no need to eat more or less than usual if you have a cold or flu. However, it is important to increase fluid intake to avoid dehydration. Fluids also help keep the lining of the nose and throat from drying out.
- Vitamin C, zinc, eucalyptus, garlic, and others are not proven cold remedies. True: Various herbs, minerals, and other products have gained a reputation as cold remedies, but there are no scientific studies that support such assertions.
- One should avoid caffeine or alcohol while experiencing a cold. True: Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages can lead to dehydration, which is the opposite of what the body needs to recover.