Common Cold

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    Sneezing, sore throat, a stuffy nose, coughing - everyone knows the symptoms of the common cold. It is probably the most common illness. In the course of a year, people in the United States suffer 1 billion colds.

    You can get a cold by touching your eyes or nose after you touch surfaces with cold germs on them. You can also inhale the germs. Symptoms usually begin 2 or 3 days after infection and last 2 to 14 days. Washing your hands and staying away from people with colds will help you avoid colds.

    There is no cure for the common cold. For relief, try

    • Getting plenty of rest
    • Drinking fluids
    • Gargling with warm salt water
    • Using cough drops or throat sprays
    • Taking over-the-counter pain or cold medicines

    However, do not give aspirin to children. And do not give cough medicine to children under four.

    NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

    Symptoms of Common Cold

    The following features are indicative of Common Cold:
    • stuffy or runny nose
    • sneezing
    • coughing
    • sore throat
    • mild fever
    • weakness
    • headache
    • aching joints
    References: 1

    Common Causes of Common Cold

    The following are the most common causes of Common Cold:
    • rhinovirus infection
    • respiratory syncytial virus infection
    • human parainfluenza virus infection
    • human metapneumovirus infection
    References: 2, 3

    Other Causes of Common Cold

    The following are the less common causes of Common Cold:
    • transmitted via airborne droplets
    • direct contact with infected nasal secretions
    • prolonged exposure to cold weather
    References: 2, 3

    Risk Factors of Common Cold

    The following factors may increase the likelihood of Common Cold:
    • children younger than six
    • fall season
    • winter season
    • weakened immune system
    • smoking use
    • exposure to viruses

    Prevention of Common Cold

    Yes, it may be possible to prevent Common Cold. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
    • wash hands daily with soap and water
    • do not touch nose, mouth and eyes with unwashed hands
    • stay away from sick or infected people
    References: 4

    Occurrence of Common Cold.

    Degree of Occurrence

    The following are number of Common Cold cases seen each year worldwide:
    • Very common > 10 Million cases

    Common Age Group

    Common Cold most commonly occurs in the following age group:
    • Can happen at any age

    Common Gender

    Common Cold most commonly occurs in the following gender:
    • Not gender specific
    References: 3

    Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Common Cold

    The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Common Cold:
    • Chest X-ray: To diagnose common cold
    • Can be diagnosed by its symptoms
    References: 2, 3

    Doctor for Diagnosis of Common Cold:

    Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Common Cold:
    • Infectious disease specialist

    Complications of Common Cold if Untreated

    Yes, Common Cold causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Common Cold is left untreated:
    • asthma
    • acute sinusitis
    • strep throat
    • pneumonia
    • croup
    • bronchiolitis
    References: 2

    Self-care for Common Cold

    The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Common Cold:
    • Drink plenty of fluids: Prevents dehydration
    • Intake warm fluids: Chicken soup and other warm fluids intake provides soothing effect and loosen congestion
    • Do saltwater gargle: Helps in relieving sore or scratchy throat
    References: 2

    Alternative Medicine for Treatment of Common Cold

    The following alternate medicine and therapies are known to help in the treatment or management of Common Cold:
    • Intake vitamin C supplements: Helpful in preventing cold
    • Consume echinacea supplements: Prevents cold
    • Intake zinc supplements: Beneficial for treating cold
    References: 2

    Time for Treatment of Common Cold

    While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Common Cold to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
    • In 1 - 4 weeks
    References: 3

    Is Common Cold Infectious?

    Yes, Common Cold is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
    • hand-to-hand contact with infected people
    • contact with respiratory secretions or stool from an infected person
    References: 3, 4

    Questions - Common Cold


    1. PubMed Health Common Cold - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    2. Mayo Clinic Common cold - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    3. Wikipedia Common cold - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    4. CDC Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others - Accessed: February 20, 2017.
    5. Source:

    Last updated date

    This page was last updated on 3/17/2018.
    This page provides information for Common Cold.

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