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Why Can’t We Cure The Common Cold? – ‘The Why’

Welcome to the newest edition of The Why“Why can’t we cure the common cold?” you ask? Good question.  In fact, lengthy stays in waiting rooms, examination rooms and in the purgatory of being placed on “hold” have inspired thoughts and questions regarding the shortcomings of the medical profession.

As usual, let’s do a quick review. According to Wikipedia the common cold is “also known as nasopharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis, acute coryza, head cold or simply a cold.” Specifically it “is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract which primarily affects the nose.” Symptoms of the common cold include the following: coughing, fever, runny nose, sneezing and sore throat which usually resolve in a week to ten days although some symptoms can last “up to three weeks.” More than “200 virus strains are implicated in the cause of the common cold; the rhinoviruses are the most common.”

common cold

Why can’t we cure the common cold?/Image: Bahan-Kuliahmu

So what’s the deal? We have reportedly ended small pox, almost wiped out polio and taken down tons of perilous pathogens but we still can’t cure the common cold. Even the doctors themselves acknowledge the issue.

Dr. Leonardo Noto physician and author of such books as Medical School 101 and The Cannabinoid Hypothesis, admits that “unless you chronically ill with a disabling disease (like cancer, for instance), the best that you’re physician can do to treat you’re once or twice yearly cold is to suggest the same things that you could have done for yourself—take it easy for a few days, cover your mouth and wash your hands so that you don’t spread your pestilence to your buds, and drink plenty of fluids.”

Indeed, why do we have vaccines for influenza, the measles and mumps but not for the virus that comes around every single year? Noto notes that at present it is “impossible’ to cure the common cold “via vaccination at the present. For one thing, cold-like symptoms are caused by a lot of different viruses and all of these viruses have several strains, each of which can get you sick.”

Noto uses the rhinovirus as a specific example. It’s “the most common cause of the cold” and there are over “100 different strains” of it. While it is true that “(g)etting sick with one strain of rhinovirus protects you against getting sick from that strain again . . . that leaves an awful lot of strains out there just waiting to inflict their misery” some other time.

common cold

Why can’t we cure the common cold?/Image: DreamsTime

Noto adds: “To make matters worse, viruses mutate extremely rapidly, constantly evolving into new strains, many of which are capable of getting you sick again.” In fact, David Sheehan, University of South Florida health professor, agreed saying: ““The bug next year is different from the bug this year.”

At present, we cannot cure the common cold because we can’t keep up with every new variant of each strain. Noto confirms this is “not a likely prospect in the near future.”

Why can’t we cure the common cold? Now you know.

(So don’t be surprised when you get “Sick Again.”)

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About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.