It is rhinovirus season. Rhinovirus hunting is in season except you are the target. The Rhinovirus is one of several viruses that are the culprits behind annoying common colds. Rhinovirus has many subspecies and strains. It’s the variety of them that makes the body struggle against getting infected. When it attacks and your immune system is weak, you feel miserable.
A common cold may be a socially transmitted disease. You may get it from a handshake, a sneeze nearby, a shared surface area, among many other things. It is not weather related, necessarily.
How do you get a cold? Going out in cold weather or swimming in cold water isn’t what helps you catch cold, though many people believe so. You cold began when a cold-virus attaches to the lining of your nose or throat.
A rhinovirus lands on and enters your body. Consider a virus an illegal alien that sneaks through the border patrol as it enters your body. The virus is a foreign germ and your body triggers defenses against it. This is the immune system. Your immune system sends white blood cells out to attack this germ. Unless you’ve encountered that exact strain of the virus before, the initial attack fails and your body sends in the infantry and paratroopers. Your nose and throat get inflamed. Histamine, mucus and phlegm form and you get runny nose, watery eyes, and congestion. With so much of your body’s energy directed at fighting the cold virus, you’re left feeling tired and miserable. You have a cold.
How do you fortify your immune system with stronger weapons? One approach is maintaining a healthy lifestyle to boost your immune system. That might include:
Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Control your blood pressure.
Drink alcohol only in moderation.
Get adequate sleep.
Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.
Seems to make sense. Even if you do follow most or all these things, you may still get a viral cold. It’s common.
Chronic psychological stress may tax your immune system, according to an article in New England Journal of Medicine. When you have chronic stress, your hormones come from glands. These chemicals act as messengers that places your body on alert to defend itself. Chronic stress or people with chronic stress, barring allergy sensitivity, are likely to have more cold symptoms because stress makes it easier for a virus to enter.
An end product of the adrenals contribution to stress response is a class of chemicals called glucocorticoids (GC). Glucocorticoids are designed to help reduce body inflammation in small doses. It’s part of the fight or flight system essential to survival. Chronic stress releases glucocorticoids in large doses. GC interrupts inflammation by moving into cells and suppressing the proteins that go on to promote inflammation. GCs also affect your metabolism by causing cells in the liver to make more sugar. This may lead to too much sugar in the blood, and cause steroid induced diabetes mellitus. Glucocorticoids also affect food intake during the sleep-wake cycle. Your Cortisol levels, which vary naturally over a 24-hour period, peak in the body in the early-morning hours just before waking. This hormone helps produce a wake-up signal, turning on appetite and physical activity. Cortisol is a common partner with glucocorticoids.
It has been believed that enduring glucocorticoids in high-levels may (with other factors) lead to cancer. Cancer is sometimes seen as a virus. A recent study in the Journal of Immunology cites evidence about how the immune system kills healthy cells while attacking infections. The immune system also performs surveillance of tumor cells, and immune suppression has been reported to increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
Dealing with a virus and a compromised autoimmune system means no treatment. Doctors often prescribe antibiotics to fight against bacterial germs that might be present in some colds. These drugs do not work against viruses. Too many repetitive prescriptions of antibiotics may cause antibiotic resistance as bacteria become immune to those drugs. This is a pressing problem at treating global bacterial infections.
Suprisingly, there is no cure for the common cold, but you can get relief from the symptoms. The United States National Institute of Health offers guidelines and most advise NOT seeing a doctor, unless symptoms last more than 5 days. It recommends using over-the-counter cold symptom relievers.
While the many strains of rhinovirus may result with a common cold any time of year, another nasty virus attacks seasonally. It called the influenza or flu virus and this has more severe symptoms. That’s why guards against influenza are strongly advised as vaccines. Vaccinating at the appropriate time may help your body fight off these aliens. There is no vaccine for the rhinovirus.
Of course, as we’ve seen with glucocorticoids and side effects as the body activates an immune system to aid and combat stress, a healthier immune system may be the best way to fight that rhinovirus from giving you a common cold. What can you do?
Many products on store shelves claim to boost or support immunity. The concept of boosting immunity actually makes little sense scientifically because those pills may have ingredients that negatively influence the immune system.
Only a lifestyle choice may help boost immune regulation over time. Unfortunately, factors such as enduring stress may confound the benefits.
According to the Center of Disease Control, “Common colds are the main reason that children miss school and adults miss work. Each year in the United States, there are millions of cases of the common cold. Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more.” There is no vaccine. The cure remains an ominous ghost.
It amazes me how few people realize the virus relationship to the common cold. It astounds how doctors continue to prescribe antibiotics to relieve colds. It fascinates about how few are willing to adopt a lifestyle for immune enhancement.
There are many ways to control stress and its accompanying anxieties from being chronic. Exercise and diet are among them and are present in an immune protection lifestyle. Stress is integral to living but chronic stress may be fatal. Your goal must aim at suppressing chronic stress.
Some of the elements of the lifestyle to boost the immune system are attractive for overall wellness throughout a lifespan. Yet, every day and in every way a rhinovirus wants to find a host. Are you a willing candidate?