Learn English while learning about daily life in Australia, with Rob McCormack
Podcast Number 22 – The Common Cold – The Same the World Over
There are many things we have in common, whether we come from Australia, India, China, Germany, Brazil or indeed any country in the world. One of those things is getting a cold, a common cold. I’m not talking about influenza, more commonly called the ‘flu’. Flu is a much more serious disease and can affect people very badly, especially the old. The common cold is, by contrast, almost never serious and is the most common disease in people all over the world.
Since I retired in July of 2011, I haven’t had a cold. That’s more than two years. Normally, an adult gets at least one or two colds per year. I certainly did when I was working. So it was great that I had not had a cold for such a long time. However, that ended 2 weeks ago when I got the first signs of a sore throat.
Everyone knows the symptoms of a cold. It starts with that tickle in your throat which becomes a dryness in the throat. Then your throat feels like it has been rubbed with sandpaper. It’s not pleasant. In my case, I started to feel a sore throat coming at around lunchtime. I thought, ahh, I’ll bet this is a cold coming on. For a while, all I had was the sore throat. I was hoping that maybe it would stop there, that all I would get is a sore throat which would be gone in the morning. But by the time I went to bed, at around 10.30pm, I wasn’t feeling very well at all. My body was starting to ache and my throat felt like it was on fire. I woke up next morning and my body was aching even more, my nose had started to run and I had a headache. My sore throat was still there and I was also getting a rasping cough. I knew that it was a cold and that I would just have to wait for it to run its course. My cold lasted about a week, which is the normal period for a cold to last. There is no cure for the common cold. You just have to ‘grin and bear it’ and wait until it passes. We can do some things to make us feel better, although they won’t make the cold go away any faster.
For example, headache tablets will reduce a headache, warm drinks will ease a sore throat and nose drops or spray will help a stuffy nose. I also find that cough lozenges make a sore throat feel a little better. For more information, visit http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/
Here are some facts about the common cold. It is caused by a virus. There are over 200 types of viruses that can cause the common cold, which is why it’s not possible to be immunized against a cold. There are just too many virus types to be covered in a single immunization. A person catches a cold when they touch or breathe in the fluid droplets from another person who has a cold. This may happen when you breathe in the air near a person who has coughed or sneezed. You can also get a cold by touching something that has been handled by a person with a cold, like a towel or a railing. Unfortunately the cold virus can survive for many hours in the air or on a surface. So I guess it’s impossible to avoid getting a cold at some time. It is interesting to note how long a person with a cold is infectious. Being infectious means that you can give someone else your cold. A person is infectious for about a day before their symptoms show and about five days after their symptoms start.
While it’s impossible to prevent colds from spreading, we can reduce them by regularly washing our hands. The most common way to get a cold is through your hands touching something with the virus on it, after which you touch your face, mouth or eyes. So washing your hands regularly may help to remove viruses before they get into your body. In some countries, people with colds wear masks to prevent their cold from spreading to others. This can certainly help to reduce the chance of getting or giving a cold, although it is not done very often in Australia.
People usually get colds more often in the winter. This is because we are most often indoors in winter along with other people and we have closer contact with them. Therefore there is more chance of cold viruses spreading.
So with all that in mind, I think I can explain why, after retiring from work, I went for 2 years before I got a cold. It’s just simply that I was not mixing indoors as often with so many other people. So I had less chance of coming into contact with the cold virus. The downside for me has been that I have been mixing with fewer people since I retired. I have actually missed that. Even though there’s a risk of getting a cold, it’s great to be able to mix with, and enjoy the company of, other people. That’s what makes life interesting.
If you have a question or a comment to make, please leave it by clicking the comments link at the top of this story. You can leave your comment in English or in any language and I will translate it. Or, you can send me an email at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you. Tell me where you live, a little bit about yourself and what you think of my Slow English podcast. Perhaps you could suggest a topic for a future podcast. If you would like to take a short quiz to see if you have understood this podcast, you will also find it on my website. Goodbye until next time.
Podcast 22 Quiz - Did you understand the podcast?
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Question 1 of 8
True or False? – The Flu can be more serious than a cold.Correct
Question 2 of 8
True or False? – Rob was unhappy that he had not had a cold for 2 years.Correct
Question 3 of 8
True or False? – On the second day of Rob’s cold, his sore throat had gone away.Correct
Question 4 of 8
True or False? – A cold virus can survive for many hours in the air, but not on a surface.Correct
Question 5 of 8
True or False? – Washing your hands regularly will help prevent colds from spreading.Correct
Question 6 of 8
True or False? – In Australia, people often wear masks in order to stop colds from spreading.Correct
Question 7 of 8
True or False? – Rob has not caught a cold for two years because he doesn’t mix with so many people since he retired.Correct
Question 8 of 8
True or False? – Rob likes mixing with other people because it makes life interesting.Correct
ache = when something is hurting
avoid = to stop something from happening
certainly = to be sure of something
contact = to touch or to be near somebody else
cough = when you push air out of your lungs very quickly and you make a sound
cough lozenges = small sweets that you suck, in order to stop your cough
cure = when you can make a disease or sickness go away
downside = a disadvantage, something which is not good
drops = the smallest amount of a liquid or fluid. For example, drops of water or medicine
dryness = when something is dry, with no water
enjoy the company of = to be with other people and to like it
facts = things that are true
fire = when something is burning
fluid droplets = very small drops of a liquid. Droplets are so small you cannot see them
grin and bear = you can’t do anything about it. You must wait until it is finished.
handled = to touch something with your hand
headache = when you have a pain in your head
immunized = to be given something which stops you from getting a disease
indoors = inside a building
lunchtime = the meal in the middle of the day
masks = something which you put over your mouth and nose
mixing = to be near other people and to talk and be with them
period = a time, for example, 1 week.
pleasant = when something is nice
prevent = to stop something from happening
quiz = a test where you are asked questions to see how much you know
railing = a bar which you hang onto. For example, when you go upstairs
rasping = a sound which is rough and unpleasant
recorded = kept
reduce = to make smaller or less
rubbed = to move something back and forward against something else
run its course = to go from the start to the finish
sandpaper = paper with sand stuck to it. Used to rub on wood and make it smooth.
serious = when bad things can happen
signs = when you can see for feel something
sneezed = when you push air out through your nose quickly
sore = when something hurts
spray = when you turn a liquid into small drops or droplets
spreading = when something goes from one person to another
stuffy = when your nose is not clear or it is blocked
surface = the outside of something. For example, the surface of the water or the table
survive = to stay alive
symptoms = the signs that you have a disease or sickness
throat = your throat is at the back of your mouth
tickle = when you can feel something lightly
towel = a piece of cloth used to wipe your body or hands