​The journey of the common cold, what to expect and what you can do to beat the bug

Dec 01 2021

​The journey of the common cold, what to expect and what you can do to beat the bug

Germs from one sneeze can travel up to 9 metres and when travelling as fast as 100 mph, that doesn’t give you much time to dive for cover. Plus, by the time you feel unwell with a cold, you’ve probably been exposed to the cold virus for between one and three days – a cold is sneaky like that. Here we take a look at the different stages of the common cold, what you can expect at each stage, and what you can do to feel better.

Days 1 and 2 - Congestion, Runny Nose and a Sore Throat

What can you expect?

Cold symptoms vary from person to person but the most common first symptoms are congestion, runny nose, and a scratchy sore throat – each is a clear indication that the cold virus is affecting your respiratory system.

What you can do:

Support your immune system with Echinacea. Echinacea Hot Drink can be soothing on a sore threat, especially with a dollop of Manuka honey, as can Echinacea Throat Spray and hot ginger tea .

Days 3 to 4 - Mucus and More Nasal Congestion

What can you expect?

Nasal symptoms continue to develop during days 3 and 4, peaking around day 4. The colour of your mucus may change too, taking on a yellow or green tinge, depending on how your immune system is responding to the virus.

Clear mucus? You’re in the clear. White mucus with congestion often indicates the early stages of a cold. Greenish or yellowish-coloured mucus signifies the presence of enzymes from white blood cells, meaning your immune system is trying to battle infection.

What you can do:

If your mucous is darker in colour, make sure you stay hydrated and get enough rest to allow your body to recover. If your nose is blocked and you’re having difficulty breathing, a Eucalyptus Oil steam bath can really help. Dilute a couple of drops in a bowl of hot water, hold a towel over your head and inhale.

Days 5 to 6 - Cough

What can I expect?

As you get better over the next few days, nasal congestion tends to clear up, but it’s not uncommon to then develop a cough, often in response to postnasal drip. This is when excess mucus runs down the back of your nose into your throat causing a cough, hoarseness and a sore throat.

What you can do:

If your cough is productive, you will need an expectorant to help bring up the excess mucus in your airways. Expectorants thin and loosen mucus from the respiratory tract, encouraging its expulsion. Try A.Vogel’s Bronchoforce Chesty Cough with Ivy, Thyme and Liquorice to help relieve chesty coughs resulting from excess mucus or catarrh in the respiratory tract.

Days 7 to 10 - Symptoms Ease

The average duration of a cold is 7 to 10 days, and by day 10 you should start to feel a lot better, although cold symptoms may last longer or become more severe in people with immune problems or other underlying health issues. If symptoms persist or you have a medical condition that puts you at increased risk for complications, reach out to your healthcare provider.

Keeping your cold to yourself

Remember, a cold can creep up on you and others. You can be contagious quite without realising for one or two days before cold symptoms kick in, and then for as long as your symptoms are present.

Good hygiene is paramount. Prevent the spread of infection by washing your hands frequently, fully covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and not touching others if at all possible.