The Common Cold. Sniffles. Head Cold. Upper Respiratory Tract Infection. So many names, just one annoying sickness! It's time to get nerdy about the common cold, since fall and winter are coming up! The medical name for the main virus that causes a cold is the rhinovirus. This virus is more common in the cooler months because it likes to reproduce in cooler temperatures. This is the same reason it only affects your nose and throat - further inside the body is too hot for the virus to make copies of itself. The goal of the rhinovirus is to make the cells in your throat and nose miserable! It can also make you tired, give you a sore or scratchy throat, make your head stuffy, and give you a runny nose. One of the reasons why your cells make more snot under a rhinovirus attack is because white blood cells that are called to the scene (neutrophils) unload an enzyme that breaks down the granules of goblet cells. Granules are little packages that hold mucin, which gets mixed with water to become snot. Goblet cells are just the cells that hold the granules and are in charge of letting snot into your nose. Lucky you!
Do you know what tonsil stones are? Technically, they're called tonsilloliths, and are made up of bacteria, dead cells, mucus, and other junk that can collect in the grooves of the tonsils. This buildup can happen due to stress, but the most common reason is tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils). The tonsils are supposed to trap bacteria and foreign stuff, but when they are inflamed, they are puffier. This puffiness can cause grooves in the tonsils to close up, which means any bacteria or foreign stuff would get trapped, until it's big enough to poke out of the groove. That's when you see them and get grossed out!