Hand Over Your Mouth

Adenoid hypertrophy
Adenoid hypertrophy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So this is day four. And I awake mostly free of symptoms–just as I had hoped and expected after my first common cold in some years.

And I have tried to think where and from whom I might have received this viral menace. I make an attempt to be mindful of shaking hands with people who are unwell and likewise to wash my hands when they have been exposed to public handrails, door knobs, table tops and the like.

But I’m thinking maybe in the case of the common cold, hand-washing is not going to save the day. Is this right? These viruses don’t gain access through the mouth but by aerosol droplets from a sneeze or cough,

And so they reach their sweet spot in the back of the throat and only then and there begin to make a home, reproduce, work hard and save for retirement.

First, to the pathology time-line. Cold viruses (there are more than 100 types) can begin an infection with as few as ONE virus. How can something so tiny create so much havoc? But then we said the same thing about both of our infants.

It starts its human infection specifically by attaching to the cells of the adenoids in the back of the throat, I read. Hmmm. don’t think I have any, do I?

I will have to ask my mother, who is staying with us, and to whom it seems as of last night that I have donated my rhinoviruses. Sorry mom. You’ll be better by Tuesday.

Like many baby boomers, we routinely had our tonsils and adenoids removed in early childhood. Did you? Be that as it may…

Once the virus or viruses find the adenoid, it takes only 8-12 hours to begin making babies  (the incubation period.) And symptoms begin some 10-12 hours later.

So if my cold started on Tuesday, I probably did pick this one up at church on Sunday. Bless you. Go and sneeze no more.

A mild cold lasts three days. That’s the only form I’ve known for decades.

Thank heavens for a healthy immune system, although most of the symptoms of a cold are due to the histamines, kinins and other immune mediators that make it feel like tiny goats are racing around inside your sinuses and that your eyeballs are melting and your clothes are made of steel wool.

Source: http://www.commoncold.org/understand.htm

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. So sorry you got the dreaded cold. I have had a mild case of the ‘flu, despite a shot, They tell us that the shot won’t prevent all types, but I think it may have been worse without it. No fever, no weakness, only very sore muscles, which prevent me from blogging!

  2. Yup. Everyone I know had their tonsils and adenoids out. Mine at 6 yo, along with my 4 yo brother. My old wives’ tale said colds took 10 days to incubate! Where did I get that? One day sounds much more likely.

  3. I didn’t have my tonsils out until I was 28 and had suffered through years of colds and strep throat. Sorry you started your new year out this way but maybe it will all be behind you now. Take care and get better.