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The Common Cold: Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It

There is no cure for the common cold. This is an accepted fact. This is one of those little annoyances that people will stress over but can't do anything about. People simply have come to accept that there is such thing as a way to cure the common cold. Of course, this could tie in to the little known scientific fact that there is no single cause for the common cold. In fact, when one bothers to break things down to the appropriate level, the “common cold” is named not because it is common, but because there is a wide range of things that can cause it.

The common cold can be the product of a large number of factors, but viral and bacterial infections tend to be the most common. It is also not unusual for certain pollens to generate allergic symptoms that can be associated with the common cold. For most people, the immune system is capable of handling and fighting off the bacterial infection that can cause the symptoms, but not the pollen. This is the reason for the cold seemingly having a seasonal appearance. In reality, the pollen is interacting with the nasal passages and irritating certain components of it, causing the cold symptoms.

Among the symptoms that both the pollen and the infection can cause are runny noses, mild fevers, scratchy throat, and nasal congestion. Specific causes can also have specific symptoms, but never without the “universal” list of effects. Whether caused by viral or bacterial infections, there are also a number of potential complications and side effects that the common cold can cause. Some of these problems are opportunistic coinfections, which means that they rarely strike on their own and require that a previous illness already compromise a person's immune system. Others are superinfections, which are illnesses that attack areas of the body that have already been negatively affected by a previous infection or illness. The difference between the two is that opportunistic coinfections require that the body's defenses already be compromised, even by something as mundane as the common cold. In contrast, superinfections can affect the body regardless of whether or not the person was in a state of good health. Some of these side effects include acute bronchitis, strep throat, pneumonia, and sinusitis. Logically, since there is not direct cause for the problem, there can be no cure. Medical systems around the world, whether traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Ayurveda, or Western medicine, need to know the cause of the problem before being able to treat it.

In terms of Western medicine, there are simply too many viruses and bacteria that can cause the same symptoms and lead to the common cold. That is without taking into account the possibility of allergens such as pollen and dust. In TCM, there are also a number of possible elemental imbalances in the body that can lead to someone developing the common cold. Despite that, however, both conventional and “exotic” medical systems have various methods to help someone recover from the cold faster. Based on the nature of the problem, as well as the rapid evolution that the cold-causing bacteria can undergo, there will likely never be a cure for the common cold. To develop a single cure for all of the possible causes of the common cold would be tantamount to making a drug that can treat virtually any sort of infection, which is a medical and chemical impossibility. Yes, treatments that help alleviate the symptoms exist and will continue to be improved upon, but a cure? Science would be more likely to discover the Holy Grail of Arthurian legend than a cure for the common cold.


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