Common Cold (cont.)
Steven Doerr, MD
Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What is the common cold, and what causes it?
- How is the common cold transmitted?
- What are the symptoms and signs of the common cold in adults, children, and infants?
- Does it have anything to do with exposure to cold weather?
- What is the difference between the common cold and influenza (the flu)?
- How is the common cold diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for the common cold? Are there any home remedies for the common cold?
- Are antibiotics a suitable treatment for the common cold?
- When should a physician or other health-care practitioner be consulted?
- How do you prevent the common cold?
- Common Cold At A Glance
- Common Cold FAQs
- Find a local Family Physician in your town
How is the common cold transmitted?
The common cold is spread either by direct contact with infected secretions from contaminated surfaces or by inhaling the airborne virus after individuals sneeze or cough. Person-to-person transmission often occurs when an individual who has a cold blows or touches their nose and then touches someone or something else. A healthy individual who then makes direct contact with these secretions can subsequently become infected, often after their contaminated hands make contact with their own eyes or nose. A cold virus can live on objects such as pens, books, telephones, computer keyboards, and coffee cups for several hours and can thus be acquired from contact with these objects.
What are the symptoms and signs of the common cold in adults, children, and infants?
The symptoms of the common cold typically begin two to three days after acquiring the infection (incubation period). Symptoms and signs of the common cold vary depending on the virus responsible for the infection and may include the following
• nasal stuffiness or drainage,
• sore or scratchy throat,
• watery eyes,
• low-grade fever,
• body aches, and
The signs and symptoms of the common cold in infants and children are similar to those seen in adults. The cold may begin with a runny nose with clear nasal discharge, which later may become yellowish or greenish in color. Infants and children may also become more fussy and have decreased appetite.
The symptoms of the common cold will typically last anywhere from four to 14 days, with most individuals improving in one week.
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