Just What Is A Cold Anyway?

Seeing as this will be my first entry on the blog, I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to take a pause before jumping into our examination of cold remedies to provide a bit of background information regarding colds, allergies and your overall health (and to hopefully help clear up some common misconceptions in the process).


First of all (and I know this is really going back to the basics, here, but bear with me for a minute here as I bust out the 5th grade science), what is a cold anyway? Well it’s what happens when a little tiny thing called a “virus” gets inside your body and once inside, our bodies recognize it as an imposter, and so they unleash a kind of microscopic warfare on the virus to try and eliminate it as quickly as possible so things can get back to normal.

© National Institutes of Health
© National Institutes of Health

Symptoms—like sneezing and coughing—are actually a sign that your body’s immune system is doing everything it can to fight back against the virus. Now here’s where things can start to get a little bit tricky, because there are hundreds of thousands of different types of viruses that can make us sick, and many share similar symptoms, which can make it pretty difficult to know exactly what kind of sick we are (which, in turn, can make it pretty hard for us to know what to do to start feeling better. . .).


Colds, in particular, tend to present themselves along with a host of relatively common symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Aches
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny/Stuffy Nose
  • Fatigue

And to make things even more fun, these symptoms are tied to another incredibly common seasonal ailment: allergies.


So here’s Cold-Remedy Pro-Tip #1: In order to treat your cold ASAP, you need to know if you really have a cold.


Know the major differences between allergies and a cold!


  1. Colds typically last 3-14 days, while allergies can last months (when in continual contact with an environmental trigger).
  2. Colds more commonly occur during winter, while allergies can occur any time (when in contact with an environmental trigger) but often are experienced in seasonal spikes
  3. With colds, symptoms typically appear several days after infection, while allergy symptoms can occur almost instantaneously (upon contact with environmental trigger).


I know it might seem silly to spend so much time discussing allergies after creating a blog called “How to Get Rid of Cold Remedies Fast,” but this is one of those discussions that just have to happen. I, myself, went most of my life thinking I wasn’t allergic to anything. It wasn’t until I spent 3 straight years with “colds” that oddly lasted from early spring to mid-summer that I actually realized what was going on!


So save yourself some trouble and get to know the different ways your body reacts to colds and allergies.


The good news is, there are a lot of things you can do in your home (or work, for that matter) to help reduce the number of allergens and pollutants that you come into contact with, and this can have positive health effects even on those not suffering allergy symptoms.


  1. Use anti-allergen bedding. They make incredibly effective dust-mite-proof pillows, box springs, sheets, you name it. This can have a huge significance on reducing your daily exposure to microscopic allergens.


  1. Use air conditioning during allergy season! While this may seem like a no brainer, it’s always good to remember that you don’t have to invite those little puffs of pollen into your home!


  1. Get an air filter. Double down on your air quality, and you’ll thank yourself—especially if you use one that’s got a HEPA or small-particle filter, which are incredibly effective at reducing the number of allergy stimulants in your home.


  1. Get your carpets regularly cleaned. This is a pro-tip I got from a carpet cleaner in my hometown at the time (westdesmoinescarpetcleaning.com), and this is one of the best things you can do to reduce allergens in your home. A professional cleaning is hugely different from just vacuuming the carpets (which is good, but does virtually nothing about the little particles that are embedded more deeply in your carpet or carpet mat.


  1. Avoid cotton (and synthetic fabric) blinds or curtains. Washable materials are your friend when it comes to holding those allergens at bay.

In general, it’s smart to take a look around your environment and keep a close eye out for potential sources of allergens that could be causing irritation and other symptoms that often resemble colds.


Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of the allergy/cold conundrum, hopefully you’ll be able to identify and diagnose your symptoms a bit more accurately (and faster!), which is the first step toward becoming a healthy version of you, once again!