What’s so common about the common cold?

Well, to begin with, anybody can catch a cold. That’s what’s common about it.

But it’s not completely common, and we’re continually learning that it’s not all that simple.

There are hundreds, if not thousands of variations of a cold, and that’s because colds are caused by viruses, and it seems that every time humankind finds a way to deal with one kind of cold virus, it mutates a little, and now we have a different cure to find, a different medication to invent or develop.

Basically, we try to treat the symptoms and move on, and with these not-so-common colds, the season doesn’t matter, location doesn’t matter, and if the truth were known, when you catch a cold, nothing much else matters except getting rid of the darn thing.

Even if you only have a mild case of the sniffles, your cold is constantly getting in the way of things.

Your nose tickles when you’re in the middle of doing something so you have to stop and blow your nose or wait until you sneeze and then blow your nose anyway, and then get back to what you were doing – if you haven’t lost track along the way and have to start again; all because you can’t try to ignore it and just sneeze in the middle of things. A sneeze demands your instant attention. You gotta deal with it right now, so you dropped everything, sneezed, and tried to remember exactly where the interruption came so you can get back in gear and move on.

In the meantime, you have to figure out a way to cope with this dad-blamed cold – and it won’t do a bit of good to decide on a scapegoat and cuss out the person who gave it to you in the first place. You might get a little bit of ‘cold comfort’ realizing that he’s suffering too, but it doesn’t help much, so you’d better just concentrate on trying to make the best of things and see what you can do on your own, so we check the various basics.

“Before a cold” basics; easy. Don’t catch one.

“What to do during a cold” basics. Not so easy

1. Always know where the nearest box of tissues is located.

2. Always have at least one spare box of tissues handy, maybe two or more strategically placed around the house, because sneezes have a way of sneaking up on a person.

3. Always remember that in an emergency – and at plenty of other times too – a roll of ordinary toilet paper is an excellent substitute for a box of tissues, even though it doesn’t look too glamorous on the bedside table or by your easy chair in front of the tv set. The point is, it’s there when you need it, and that’s all that matters.

4. Start medicating as soon as possible. Even though you’re going to be confronted by hundreds of confusing labels at the store, you have to wade through all the advertising hype, match your symptoms to what’s available, and try to survive in comparative comfort until your doctor’s appointment, hoping he can recommend something effective.

5. Buy more tissues or toilet paper.

6. Quit griping. Sure, misery loves company, but company doesn’t love misery, so suffer in silence. Everybody else will appreciate it.

7. Treat yourself to some special goodies. You’ll feel better, even if the cold doesn’t go away. (Hot drinks and soups always help your morale.)

8. If you want your family to keep on loving you, don’t ever sneeze in anybody’s direction, or don’t sneeze at all if you can manage to stifle it. But if you do, cover it.

9. Keep that doctor’s appointment.

10. Look on the bright side. Colds are temporary – even if they don’t seem so – and before long you can get on with your life, look back with relief, and maybe even sympathize a little with the next cold victim.

Remember, doctors have told us for years and years that when it comes to a cold, you need to resign yourself to the fact that most colds will run themselves out in a fortnight, or two weeks, whichever comes first, so there is a glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel.

That’s a good thought to remember when you’re sneezing uncontrollably.

But keep the tissues handy anyway.

— Newton columnist Mike Morton writes weekly for the Kansan. He can be reached at m24r24fm8445@att.net