Runny nose - also known as rhinitis - is in itself a harmless condition, but can also cause complications. For this reason, even a simple cold should be treated appropriately. To date, more than 100 different types of "rhinoviruses" are known. They are transmitted in the form of a "droplet infection" from person to person.
Colds are triggered by viruses
When someone sneezes, snouts or coughs from a cold, they are flung millions of viruses through the air each time. The viruses then enter the respiratory tract of the healthy air via the respiratory air. If they manage to settle there, the mucous membrane inflames. It swells and we hardly get air through our nose.
First, the cold is thin. Later, viscous mucus is increasingly produced, which considerably hinders nasal breathing. A simple cold usually lasts for a week and the discomfort is primarily limited to the nose.
The cold can also be a precursor to an inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis). This is to be considered if a cold is particularly persistent, fever and / or headache come to it and no significant improvement occurs within eight days.
The paranasal sinuses are usually involved in the classic common cold. But only when isolated symptoms such as severe headache occur while the runny nose is missing, one speaks of sinusitis (sinusitis), which affects primarily adults.
What happens in the body? When sniffing swells the nasal mucosa. Swelling of the nasal mucosa almost completely occludes the narrow passages between the paranasal sinuses and the main cavity. The mucus can no longer run down the nose, remains stuck in the sinuses. The pathogens can spread and cause inflammation.
Sinusitis: symptoms and treatment
Symptoms of the disease include pressure and pain around the eyes, temples and root of the nose. The pain starts in the morning, increases until noon and returns slightly in the afternoon. They strengthen when stooping. Added to this is general malaise, often fever.
Treatment by the doctor is important, as insufficient or insufficiently treated sinusitis can lead to complications or even become chronic.
Other complications of runny nose
In addition to sinusitis, further complications can occur in case of cold.
- In children, there is often insufficient ventilation of the middle ear and thus the occurrence of otitis media.
- If the sensitive nasal mucosa is damaged, for example mechanically or by medication, the defense against infection is weakened and various forms of progression can occur, which can become chronic.
- Nervous cold is a hypersensitivity of the nasal mucous membrane with seizure-like symptoms caused by various influences such as stress, alcohol, smoke, dust, temperature, humidity and medication. The symptoms are similar to allergic hay fever.
Runny nose: When to the doctor?
The doctor must be consulted if:
- the cold lasts more than seven days
- Pain in the nasal sinuses occur
- Throat or ear pain or spread to the deeper respiratory tract (fever, cough, respiratory problems etc.)
Treatment of the cold
Cold is not the same as cold, but the therapy is usually quite uniform: it is important to ensure a clear nose, for example by the short-term use of decongestant nose drops or sprays. For infants and babies there are special preparations.
In addition, because dry mucous membranes increase susceptibility to pathogens, moisture is particularly important. Mucosal moisturizing measures are, in addition to air humidification and inhalations, moisturizing nose drops. As a result, viscous secretions that hinder breathing, liquefied and transported away and promoted the swelling of the nasal mucosa.
Preventive measures against colds
How to prevent a cold:
- Do not overheat rooms and humidify the air well
- Cool bedroom, room ventilation on a regular basis
- Moisten the nasal mucosa
- Inhale and clean nose properly