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
- Common cold facts
- What is the common cold, and what causes it?
- How is the common cold transmitted?
- What are risk factors for acquiring the common cold?
- What are the symptoms and signs of the common cold in adults, children, and infants? What is the incubation period of the common cold?
- Does it have anything to do with exposure to cold weather?
- What is the difference between the common cold and influenza (the flu)?
- How do physicians diagnose the common cold?
- 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 health-care professional be consulted?
- What is the prognosis for the common cold? What is the duration of the common cold?
- What are complications of the common cold?
- Is it possible to prevent the common cold?
- Common Cold FAQs
- Find a local Family Physician in your town
Does it have anything to do with exposure to cold weather?
Though the common cold usually occurs in the fall and winter months, the cold weather itself does not cause the common cold. Rather, it is thought that during cold-weather months, people spend more time indoors in close proximity to each other, thus facilitating the spread of the virus. For this same reason, children in day care and school are particularly prone to acquiring the common cold. The low humidity during these colder months is also felt to contribute to the increased prevalence of the common cold, as many of the implicated viruses seem to survive better in low-humidity conditions.
What is the difference between the common cold and influenza (the flu)?
Many people confuse the common cold with influenza (the flu). Influenza is caused by the influenza virus, while the common cold generally is not. While some of the symptoms of the common cold and influenza may be similar, patients with the common cold typically have a milder illness. Patients with influenza usually appear more ill and have a more abrupt onset of illness with fever, chills, headache, substantial muscle and body aches, dry cough, and extreme weakness.
Though differentiating between the common cold and influenza can be difficult, there is laboratory testing available to confirm the diagnoses of influenza.
How do physicians diagnose the common cold?
A physician or health-care professional will generally diagnose the common cold based on the description of the symptoms and the findings during the physical exam. Laboratory testing and imaging studies are generally not necessary unless there are concerns about another underlying medical condition or potential complications of the common cold.
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