Amid the Omicron scare, here’s what you need to know about the signs and treatment of the common cold


In winters, the common cold — caused by rhinoviruses — affects many people around the world. As we face a new wave of covid this year, and with temperatures plummeting in the northern states of the country, it is normal to be confused between the common cold and the covid infection, as both present similar symptoms.

Dr. Sanjay Bhatia, an ear, nose and throat surgeon at Fortis Hospital Mulund, explains that the Omicron variant has cold-like symptoms of runny nose, headaches, sneezing, sore throat, body aches, cough, fatigue with fever. “It is prudent to first rule out Omicron infection making a house rapid antigen test or gold standard RT-PCR test. If positive, one should be treated accordingly. One time omicron ruled out, it may be a common cold, whose diagnosis is usually through history and physical examination; no intensive treatment is required,” he says.

According to the doctor, the rhinovirus infections They are usually mild and self-limited. Children are more affected due to their developing immune systems. The virus spreads easily through droplets coughed or sneezed by infected people and from fomites. The incubation period is usually 3 days before symptoms develop and can typically last a week to 10 days.

Common symptoms are:

– Nasal dryness and irritation
– Watery nasal discharge, sneezing and nasal congestion
– Nasal discharge may thicken and turn yellow or green
– Throat irritation or sore throat
– Watery and itchy eyes
mild cough
– Low fever with chills
– Headache and general malaise, body aches
– Fullness or facial and ear pain

Management is usually symptomatic, with:

* Rest and plenty of fluids
* Good nutrition
* Nasal decongestant and antihistamines, according to medical prescription
* Antitussive, according to medical prescription
* Analgesic and antipyretic drugs, according to medical prescription
* Antibacterial agents are not effective unless there is additional bacterial infection
* Vaseline for chapped skin around the nose and lips

Get tested for Covid before starting treatment for any other type of viral infection. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

What are the complications?

Dr. Bhatia says that the common cold should not lead to rhinosinusitis, where the nasal secretions they turn yellow to dark green, causing facial pain and thick postnasal discharge.

– Nose blowing or forceful sniffing should be avoided as this can lead to an ascending infection in the middle ear space causing acute otitis media (AOM), which causes severe ear pain and sometimes perforation and discharge from the eardrum .
– Sensitive and swollen neck glands.
– May also lead to exacerbation of reactive airway disease in children and adults.
– It can also cause bronchitis and other infections such as pneumonia.


The doctor explains that since the disease is contagious and is transmitted by hand-to-hand contact and by airborne droplets, it is important to follow the appropriate measures:

* Hand washing with soap
* Avoid contact between fingers, eyes and nose.
* Use of tissues when sneezing, coughing and disposing of the tissue immediately
* Avoid crowded areas and rest at home

In addition to the points mentioned above, please note the following:

1. The common cold is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose and throat.
2. It is a self-limited disease and treated symptomatically; antibiotics won’t work.
3. The best way to prevent this is to wash your hands frequently and avoid crowded areas.

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