One of the first clues that you are coming down with a cold is an uncomfortably dry, scratchy feeling at the back of your throat, while at the same time your nose constantly "runs," or drips with mucus. The common cold is easily passed from from one person to the next and is caused by a virus; symptoms generally appear from one to three days after exposure.
Runny Nose Causes
Although a nasal discharge, or runny nose, may be annoying, it is actually a sign that your body is fighting the virus, according to the Indiana University School of Medicine. The extra mucus produced when you are coming down with a cold serves to battle germs and keeps nasal passages moist. It is not unusual for mucus to change in color and consistency during a cold. The clear nasal discharge you have at the beginning of a cold normally becomes yellow or green as the illness progresses, and does not necessitate treatment with an antibiotic, according to the Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia.
Runny Nose Relief
Drinking lots of fluids, including water, juices and hot teas and soups, helps replace lost fluids and keeps mucus thin rather than thick. Avoid things that contribute to dehydration, including alcohol, caffeine and cigarette smoke. Increasing the amount of humidity in the air you breath can also stave off fluid loss and help you feel more comfortable. Using soft tissues to wipe away mucus can help prevent irritation and redness of the skin around the nose.
Itchy Throat Causes
Feeling scratchiness or a tickle in the throat is especially common at the onset of a cold. The membranes of the throat may be irritated either from dryness and dehydration, or from too much fluid as waste material drains down the throat, causing pain upon swallowing, and the feeling of needing to constantly clear the throat, according to the website Health Guidance.
Itchy Throat Relief
Fortunately, a sore or itchy throat typically lasts only for a day or two at the start of a cold. The discomfort is best soothed with plenty of liquids such as warm soups and teas, over-the-counter pain medications, or throat lozenges. Gargling with warm salt water several times daily and drinking warm water with lemon and honey are time-tested home remedies, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Causes for Concern
Most people recover from a cold without complications within a week or so. Symptoms such as a fever of over 102 degrees, severe sore throat or noticeably swollen glands can be an indication of a more serious illness. Although it begins as a viral infection, a cold can cause bacterial infection to develop in your ears or sinuses, so if symptoms do not improve, consult a doctor.