An important message from a friendly neighborhood virus

Zombie Virus Kids
Zombie Virus Kids

Hi!  My name is Rhino Virus (you may know me as “cold virus.”  I don’t really get why people call me that.).  You probably meet me or one of my relatives several times each year; in fact, I’d guess that someone from my family is waiting for you in your kitchen right now!  Anyway, I’m writing this article because I’m a bit frustrated with the negative media portrayal of viruses like myself; I want to thank the SingingDrJosh for giving me an opportunity to set the record straight!

I’m a family man, too

First, I have nothing against you or your kids.  You see, just like you, I’m just trying to find a home to raise my family (just a few million viruses – and you seem to have plenty of room in that nose!).  A lot of times you don’t even notice that we’re there.  We quietly replicate over hours to days; if we’re lucky we’ll somehow get onto your hand and get a free ride to one of your friends’ mouths to set up a new residence.  (I have to say, I am not a big fan of hand washing – you’re happily living under a fingernail when “woosh!” – you find yourself floating in a sewer).   We’re cheerfully multiplying (destroying a few healthy cells along the way – oops) without making much trouble for anyone – then suddenly, along comes your tyrannical immune system to generate tons of mucus and heat to flush us out (So in a sense, you could say that you’re doing it to yourself.  But then you blame me – thanks a lot!).  Once your body gets to work, our numbers start to drop.  You start becoming less contagious on the day that your symptoms peak – usually the first couple days of being sick.  And just so you know, the color of the mucus doesn’t indicate anything about whether you have a bacteria or virus – just that your immune system is on the loose!

“Cold medicine?” – Good luck with that.

Okay, I hope you don’t mind if I brag a little.  Americans spend $4 billion every year buying medications that claim to cure “cold symptoms.”  Here’s a secret: they don’t do very much (makes me feel pretty tough)!  They are actually more likely to harm your child with side effects than to help them by decreasing symptoms.  So I, Rhino Q Virus – recommend against them; I prefer that you keep your kids safe – more homes for me and my family!  That being said, there are a few generally harmless interventions that may help kids feel better with minimal side effects.  Vicks VapoRub, warm fluids, a little bit of honey (in kids over 1), a cool mist humidifier or gentle nasal saline and suctioning are worth a try – if they don’t work, no harm done.  Really, the only thing that’s going to get rid of me is your own immune response (the symptoms you recognize as a “cold” – i.e. mucus production, fever, body aches).  I guess it seems reasonable to use Tylenol or Motrin if the fever is making your child miserable, but using them excessively to eradicate a fever may be like putting out a welcome mat – not that I mind!

See you soon!

Anyway, I’m planning to move through your area this winter, so I wanted to introduce myself.  If you’d like to meet me, make sure to avoid hand washing and spend quality time with some toddlers (especially the nose-pickers and thumb-suckers).   To be honest, I try not to overstay my welcome.  While you may feel miserable for 2-3 days (my apologies), usually from then on you’ll be getting better; I should be gone altogether in 1-2 weeks (although I can’t guarantee one of my friends won’t stop by as soon as I leave!).  You’re less likely to have complications by getting rest, staying hydrated and visiting your friendly medical provider if you feel like things are getting concerning.  And don’t worry, I’m planning to visit SingingDrJosh a few times this winter too!

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