The Common Cold (also known as nasopharyngitis, acute coryza and, my personal favourite, rhinopharyngitis).
Symptoms: Frequent sneezing; throat like sandpaper; obscene amount of snot flowing indiscriminately from nasal region; general fatigue and listlessness, decreased appetite for everything other than tomato soup and chocolate-based foodstuffs.
Incompatible with: Sleeping soundly; going about your daily life, exercising, being cheerful.
Cure: INCURABLE (to put this in context, there’s recently been talk of finding a cure for AIDS, yet the most common illness of them all cannot be conquered? Who are these scientists? And are they serious?).
Did you know that the average adult contracts two to three colds a year, with the average child contracting between six and twelve? Whilst not debilitating, colds have the ability to zap us of our joie de vivre, making even the simplest of tasks seem suddenly unbearably difficult.
It starts with a general feeling of malaise and exhaustion. You’re too tired to go for a run, to cook dinner, to meet friends for a drink. Even the thought of hanging up the washing leaves you drained beyond all reasonable measure.
Then comes the sneezing; huge howlers that catch you unawares on buses and tube trains, prompting all those in the immediate vicinity to turn away in disgust. You wander the streets like a leper, residing in the shadows with mouth covered and a grotty tissue clasped in your sweaty hand.
Your throat is scratchy and no amount of water, wine or hot Ribena (just me?) can quench your thirst. You catch sight of yourself in the mirror and feel certain Caspar the friendly ghost would envy your complexion. Even your hair is lacklustre.
You go about your tasks like an automaton; without enthusiasm. You begin to avoid people, conversation dries up. Your single waking thought revolves around your need to be in bed – alone, and with a box set of your favourite TV programme. You have, in the space of a few short days, become a virtual recluse.
If armies used the common cold virus against their enemies in war it would surely help them secure victory. Imagine a whole squadron of trained killers feeling a bit below par, having to stop every now and then to blow their nose or take some cold and flu tablets. Imagine the gains the opposition could make!
Put simply (and crudely-from the mouth of someone in the throes of one right now), the common cold sucks balls – big, hairy, snot-filled ones.