There are some mornings you do not feel like getting out of bed. Your head aches, your nose is runny, your joints hurt and your throat feels so sore you swear someone used it as a grater while you were sleeping. Despite your best efforts to get rid of it... aah.. aah.. achoo! You know you have a cold. Not bad enough to put you down but bad enough to make your day seem longer and more challenging while your head feels as if someone is using it as a bass drum.
Unfortunately mainstream medicine tells us that when it comes to the common cold there is not much you can do other than treat the symptoms and let the cold run its course. It does not matter who you are; whether you are old or young before the end of the year many people would have gotten the nasty "common cold" bug says Dr Varma Deyalsingh.
"With children away from school for the July/August vacation, parents should be extremely vigilant since this is the peak season for not only the common cold but also dengue fever," he said.
According to Dr Deyalsingh, differentiating between the two is not easy even for doctors because both diseases present flu-like symptoms, particularly in small children where some of the symptoms of dengue can also be mistaken for gastroenteritis," he added.
"Dengue fever is a mosquito borne viral infection that causes severe flu-like illness while the common cold is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system which affects mainly the nose and throat. There are four types of dengue and they include: DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3 and DEN-4. The dengue virus is spread from person to person by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. In the case of the common cold, there are over 200 viruses with the most commonly implicated viruses being the Rhinovirus, Picornavirs and Influenza to name a few," he said.
"On average a child might get 6-12 common cold attacks in a year while an adult may get 1-3 attacks within the same time frame. This is so because adults having been more exposed to the virus have built up some immunity while children are still in the process of developing theirs," he said.
He said, "Dengue can also present in a more severe form called dengue haemorrhagic fever. In this form of dengue the patient can present with bleeding either under the skin (resembling "hickeys") or from the gums, anus or vagina. The most severe form of dengue is dengue shock syndrome where a patient's blood pressure becomes abnormally low and there is decreased blood entering vital organs and patients can die from this."
According to Dr Deyalsingh while it is common for dengue to be mistaken for a severe form of the common cold if after five days symptoms still persists, it is important to see a physician.
He said, "There have been instances where people may feel better after the fever breaks only for the symptoms to come back three or four days later. To rule out dengue, a doctor performs a blood test called dengue IgM. The doctor would look at the patient's platelet count and the haematocrit. Keep in mind doing the blood test too early may not show up any signs of dengue, so timing is important. Four to five days after the fever has started in a patient a blood test can usually determine if there is a dengue infection."
He said, "With small children it is often difficult to assess because children are unable to explain themselves as clearly when compared to an adult, and may not be able to describe all of their symptoms completely. A physician however should have a strong clinical suspicion with patients presenting fever around the months of July and August. During this time figures tend to go up for dengue fever and common cold cases."
"In order to curb the spread of the common cold, proper sneezing etiquette is important. Instead of using a handkerchief to blow your nose, use a napkin; blow and then throw it away. The common cold is typically transmitted via airborne droplets and direct contact with nasal secretions. Wash hands regularly; some studies have shown supplementing your diet with zinc and vitamin C can reduce the rate and duration of the common cold," he said.
Colds occasionally can lead to bacterial infections of your middle ear or sinuses, requiring treatment with antibiotics. However, you should not use antibiotics to treat a cold since colds are viral infections and antibiotics target bacterial infections, he said.
According to Dr Deyalsingh there will always be dengue and there will always be deaths from dengue however it is important for the government and the public to work together to ensure that the spread of dengue is kept to a minimum.
He suggested that having a dengue ward set up at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope to deal with dengue cases would go a long way towards reassuring the public.
He said, "At the end of the day, every person has to take responsibility for their own health and should ensure that their environment is safe and clean. Keep water containers covered with a tight lid and use mosquito nets and mosquito repellents where possible."
Important to note:
Treatment of the common cold Treatment of dengue fever
Lots of bed rest Lots of bed rest
Drink lots of fluids Drink lots of fluids
Gargling with warm salt water, throat sprays Gargling with warm salt water for a
or lozenges for a sore throat sore throat
Using a decongestant with Use paracetmol or Tylenol for pain and fever.
psdudoephedrine is helpful for a Avoid medications such as Olfen, Cataflam
runny nose and Motrin since these medicines can cause
further bleeding if someone has dengue
Using a chest vapour rub can give some Practice good nutrition and proper
relief of night symptoms such as coughing sleep patterns
Taking medicine for pain and fever such Tepid sponging and baths to get rid
as aspirin or Tylenol of fever
Tepid sponging and baths to get rid of fever
Practice good nutrition and proper