The common cold is an infection that affects the upper respiratory tract – the nose, throat, sinuses (small spaces in the skull behind the eyes and nose), trachea (the main airway that runs to the lungs), larynx (voice box) and bronchial tubes (the airways in the lungs).
What causes a cold?
Colds are caused by viruses and are highly infectious. Tiny droplets of fluid containing the cold virus are launched into the air by sneezing, coughing and even speaking. If these are breathed in by someone else then they may well become infected. Colds can also spread through direct and indirect contact. The virus can be passed on via a simple handshake. Alternatively, if an object is touched such as a door handle or telephone, the virus may be transferred to the object and then on to someone else.
When do symptoms start?
The symptoms of a cold usually begin 2-3 days after infection, and last for 2-14 days. Most people recover from a cold within a week. People are most contagious during the sneezing, runny nose and coughing phase that are the first signs of a cold developing.
How common are colds?
Colds are very common. They occur mainly during the winter months, although cold weather itself is not a cause of colds. Children tend to have more colds than adults. This is because adults have built up immunity against some of the viruses that cause colds. On average, adults have between two and four colds a year, while children may have as many as eight or ten.
Why are colds more common in winter?
The colder air during winter taken in through the nose and mouth as we breathe means the body is not as effective at fighting off viruses. So, the cool, dry air can weaken our resistance to unwanted invaders. There is also evidence that viruses are more stable in colder conditions, meaning they survive better.
We also tend to spend more time indoors during the colder months, which allows viruses to pass more easily from one person to another.
Natural Supplements for cold and flu
Extracts of pelargonium have recently been attracting interest as a natural alternative to antibiotics for treating symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, such as colds, coughs, sore throats, sinusitis as well as for helping to prevent secondary infections such as bronchitis.
Does Pelargonium Work?
Research shows that the anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of pelargonium help to prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching themselves to cells in the mucous membranes as well as stimulating the immune system to stop viruses and bacteria from multiplying. Extracts of pelargonium can also act as an expectorant allowing the body to expel infected mucus, which makes conditions less suitable for bacteria and viruses to multiply.
Pelargonium can be found in our Kaloba range of tablets, drops and syrup. At the first sign of symptoms start to take your chosen product. You should carry on taking pelargonium for three days after symptoms have disappeared to prevent a relapse.
Also known as the purple or prairie coneflower, echinacea is a wild flower native to the grasslands of Central America. It was used for centuries by Native Americans and also European pioneers in America.
Does echinacea work?
Containing natural substances with antibiotic properties, echinacea appears to work by stimulating the production of white blood cells, which help the body to fight infection.
Echinacea can be found in EchinaCold – a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the relief of symptoms of the common cold and influenza type infections, exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy.
Taking two to three tablets up to three times daily can help adults and children 12 years+ to relieve symptoms of cold and flu type infections. For best results it should be taken at the first sign of infection.
Vitamin supplements for common cold
Prevention is always better than cure, so there are a few vitamin supplements which can help when it comes to supporting your everyday immunity.
The body does not store vitamin C at all and it’s quickly excreted, therefore symptoms such as frequent colds and infections can develop as a result of a lack of vitamin C.
Vitamin C can be found in a range of fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits, tropical fruits, strawberries, red and green peppers, melons, and dark green leafy vegetables, so include as many of these in the diet as possible.
A high strength vitamin C supplement, either on it’s own or as part of a good quality multivitamin, can be beneficial when it comes to supporting your immunity.
Vitamin D plays a major role in immune function by increasing activity of the body’s natural killer cells thereby fighting possible infections.
Often known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ it is made on the skin in the presence of sunlight. So, during the colder and darker months of October to March it is difficult to get the amount of Vitamin D we need.
Vitamin D is found in small amounts in some foods including animal sources such as egg yolks, dairy products, liver, oily fish and fortified cereals and other food stuffs. But it is difficult to get enough Vitamin D from food sources alone.
However it is recommended by Public Health England that everyone should take a daily supplement of at least 10ug per day, but especially during the winter months.
Zinc supports the immune system by increasing the activity of natural killer cells which help to fight against viruses. It is also an antioxidant helping to neutralise free radicals – those harmful molecules that can damage cells.
Zinc is found in predominently in seafood, red meat, liver, egg yolks, dairy products, wholegrains and beans, with oysters being the number one source when it comes to the amount of zinc they contain.
Zinc can be taken as a supplement on its own or as part of a high quality multivitamin.
Vitamin A is also important when it comes to immunity. It plays a key role in growth and development by stimulating processes needed for cellular activity. It is know as an anti-inflammatory vitamin due to it’s role in enhancing immune function.
Pre-formed vitamin A or retinol is found only in animal sources, the richest being fish liver oils. But red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables contain carotenes which can be converted into vitamin A in the body as needed.
Vitamin A can be taken as a supplement on its own or as part of a high quality multivitamin.