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20 Interesting Common Cold Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
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Common cold, as the name suggests, is a very common ailment that inflicts suffering on every single human on this earth. This sickness isn’t really a new one. It has existed since times immemorial! The question that therefore naturally comes is, ‘why is there no cure for this common illness’ or ‘why have the scientists failed to eradicate this ailment from its roots’? Though we have a definitive answer to this ‘why’, we, the great humans, have failed to find a definitive solution which is rightly addressed by one single word – ‘how’. Let us learn 20 interesting common cold facts and learn a hell lot of things about this illness that has been a part of human existence since antiquity!

Common Cold Facts: 1-10

1. The history of common cold perhaps predates humans but we have no way of finding out the same. The earliest records of the symptoms of this illness and its possible treatments can be found in Egyptian Ebers Papyrus – the oldest known medical text in existence.

2. Common cold is extremely common and people all around the globe are affected. Children catch cold some 6-10 times a year. School-going children may catch cold 12 times a years. Adults on the other hand catch cold 2-5 times a year.

3. In ageing people symptomatic infection rates are higher simply because their immune system gradually grows weaker.

4. As opposed to popular myth, ethnicity has nothing to do with common cold. While data shows that Inuit people and Native Americans are more prone to common cold than the Caucasians, the truth is that it is only overcrowding and poverty that leads to greater instances of common cold in Inuit people and Native Americans.

5. Common cold is generally self-limiting and mild and 50% of the cases are usually cured within 10 days from the day of infection. 90% cases get cured within 15 days.

6. Common cold can however lead to severe complications. This is not usually in generally healthy people. People who are either very young or old or people who are immunosuppressed are more threatened by complications caused by common cold.

7. The most common complications that can rise due to common cold include ear infection, pharyngitis, or sinusitis.

8. Pliny, a Roman Philosopher from 1st Century AD proposed that people suffering of common cold should kiss a mouse’s hair muzzle as a cure!

9. Hippocrates from 400 BC noted that in those days, bleeding was a common method that was used as a cure for common cold but the method was actually worthless.

10. While it is a common notion that common cold is contagious, the part of it which says that don’t kiss when you catch cold, is actually false. Okay, Eskimo kisses are to be prevented but actually smooching won’t transfer the viruses to the person you smooch or kiss because these notorious viruses don’t really love jumping from mouth to mouth or lip to lip.

Common Cold Facts: 11-20

11. What about Eskimo kisses? Well, Eskimo kiss is an act of rubbing nose with another person and these common cold viruses are kinda very interested in nose to nose jumps. They also prefer eyes. So, Eskimo kisses must be avoided during common cold.

12. In a recent study it was found that standing 6 feet away from the person infected with common cold viruses can help prevent the spread of the virus. In the study it was found that a typical sneeze travels 2 feet at a speed of 15 feet per second while the normal breath travels at a speed of 4.5 feet per second. So if someone is sick, stay 6 feet away and if you see that person gearing up for a sneeze, run further away!

13. Common cold viruses can survive up to 48 hours outside the body. Yes! That’s true and they can actually stay on skin or other touchable surfaces like elevator buttons, kitchen counters, keyboards, light switches, toilet paper rolls, door knobs and more!

14. The question is, why is there no proper remedy for this common illness? That’s because there are over 200 different viruses that can lead to common cold.

15. Worsening the case is that some viruses have multiple strains. For example, rhinovirus (which is actually responsible for 40% of common cold cases) has over 100 different strains. Now this should be self-explanatory. There is no single universal vaccine that can cure common cold.

16. There is a popular notion that one will catch cold when he or she is cold. This notion probably came from the fact that common cold is more prevalent during the winters. This however is not true. Scientists have figured out that there is no direct correlation between cold temperature and common cold infection.

17. Donna Griffiths, a 12-year-old girl from UK holds the world record for longest sneezing bout. How long can it be? Well, she started sneezing on 13 January 1981 and continued sneezing for 978 days!

18. In the first 365 days since her sneezing feat started, she sneezed nearly a million times (well, that’s an estimated figure).

19. Donna stopped sneezing on 16 September 1983. It was the 978th day which turned out to be her sneeze-free day!

20. A common cold virus is capable of reproducing 16 million offspring just within 24 hours!

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Image Credits: 1, 2

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