Published: 04/14/2006 - Updated: 06/07/2017
The cold is an infection of viral origin that affects the respiratory tract, primarily the nose and throat, sometimes reaching to the trachea and bronchi. A person can contract the disease several times a year, times more likely to start in autumn, spring and towards the middle of winter.
In principle, it is a disease that runs smoothly, and between three and seven days, symptoms begin to disappear. However, more attention should be given to children, elderly, pregnant women and debilitated people who may be most affected.
The most common symptoms of a cold are nasal congestion and excessive mucus, accompanied by coughing, sneezing, sore throat and slight malaise. The cold usually heal without the onset of fever, although in some cases can reach 38-39 degrees. Although these symptoms are similar to the flu, there are some differences between them, especially the presence of fever for several days, more severe cough, headache, joint pain and muscle weakness and feeling sharp.
Better to prevent
The cold is a disease that spreads easily, and transmission occurs through contact with secretions carrying the virus. There has not yet an effective vaccine for its prevention, as there are many types of virus causing the disease mutate every year. But there are hygiene measures recommended to avoid it:
- Not being in touch with the people who have it, especially the first few days.
- It is important that the body's defense system functions properly to protect ourselves in case of infection, wash hands thoroughly and dry with a towel that is different from the sick person.
- Protect from cold environments and avoid loaded places.
It is important that the body's defense system function properly to protect ourselves in case of infection. This plays a vital role to continue feeding the individual, and that through it you can stimulate immune function. One of the most important nutrients involved in this function is vitamin C, whose presence is noteworthy in fruits and vegetables. Foods with higher content of this vitamin are citrus fruits like oranges, tangerines and grapefruit juice, other fruits such as strawberries, kiwis and mangoes and vegetables such as peppers and cabbage family. The deficit of other nutrients can cause a weakened immune system and increase susceptibility to infections. These include minerals such as selenium and zinc, omega 6 fatty acids and amino acids such as arginine and glutamine. Lactic acid bacteria, which are present mainly in fermented milk products, it also seems to have a beneficial effect on the immune system. These microorganisms are able to cross the barrier and act on the gastrointestinal flora or intestinal mucosa, where they express their beneficial qualities.
Once you have contracted the cold, treatment is aimed at improving symptoms, as there is no medicine that can cure a case of a disease caused by a virus. Antibiotics are not effective, except in cases of complications caused by bacteria.
The role of food during the cold
- A diet soft based with comforting and nutritious foods can help improve the general malaise and mitigate loss of appetite that may occur due to the state of convalescence. Food should be varied, not elaborated so that it is easy to digest and rich in foods that stimulate the immune function.
- An adequate fluid intake is essential to maintain good hydration in the case of colds. This prevents that dry mucous membranes and enhances the liquefaction of secretions.
- Alcoholic beverages and those containing caffeine can cause dehydration, so it is recommended not to take in this case.
- Hot drinks and broths, soups and teas can be an appealing and rewarding to take the necessary amount of liquid.
It is advised to prepare food in a simple way to make them easier to digest. Avoid using an excessive amount of fat, as it can be indigestible.
Vitamin C helps prevent colds and reduce their duration, since it is a nutrient that stimulates the body's defenses. The best sources of this vitamin are vegetables and fruit, whose presence is essential in the diet to combat the cold.
Other nutrients that stimulate immune function are selenium which is present in foods like eggs, cereals full of vegetables, meat and fish, and zinc, whose main dietary sources are liver, the cheese, seafood, vegetables, eggs and nuts.
In case of fever, emphasis should be placed in an adequate intake of fluids to avoid dehydration and to eliminate toxins from the body. It also recommends a soft diet easily digestible.
Phytotherapy can collaborate to improve the general condition and reduce symptoms of colds. The herbal tea to take effect on the airways is best suited, such as eucalyptus, the Echinacea, the elder and verbena, among others.
Breakfast: Orange juice, milk and biscuits with honey.
Lunch: Mashed vegetables, chicken breast to the plate with rice, applesauce.
Snack: Yoghurt with nuts infusion.
Dinner: noodle soup, omelets with tomato sauce, kiwi.