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
What is the prognosis for the common cold? What is the duration of the common cold?
Generally, the prognosis for the common cold is excellent. The common cold needs to run its natural course, and most individuals with the common cold will recover within seven to 10 days. However, certain viruses may take up to three weeks to completely resolve.
What are complications of the common cold?
Complications that may arise from the common cold include the development of a middle ear infection (otitis media) or sinusitis. In individuals with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the common cold can sometimes trigger an exacerbation of their illness, leading to shortness of breath and increased wheezing. Though uncommon, pneumonia can sometimes develop as a secondary infection in individuals with the common cold. An evaluation by a health-care professional should be undertaken if any of these complications are suspected.
Is it possible to prevent the common cold?
The most important measure to prevent the common cold is to avoid contact with infected individuals. Other measures to help prevent the common cold include the following:
- Frequent and thorough hand washing is extremely important, as this can destroy viruses acquired from touching contaminated surfaces.
- Disinfect potentially infected surfaces or personal objects, and do not share personal belongings such as towels, handkerchiefs, or tissues.
- Avoid sharing utensils and try to use disposable items (such as disposable cups) if someone in the family has a cold.
- Encourage individuals to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing to prevent transmission of the virus.
- Lifestyle modifications such as smoking cessation and stress management may decrease susceptibility to acquiring the common cold.
Currently, there is no effective vaccine against the common cold.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Common Cold and Runny Nose." Sept. 30, 2013.<http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/URI/colds.html>.
United States. National Library of Medicine. "Common Cold." Jan. 21, 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001698/>.
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