May 28, 2016

Answers FAQ

Common Cold FAQs

Reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP, on February 12, 2016

Take the Common Cold Quiz First! Before reading this FAQ, challenge yourself and
Test your Knowledge!

Q:The common cold is one of the most common illnesses in the world. True or false?

A:True.

The common cold is a viral infection and is one of the most common illness worldwide, It leads to more visits to health care providers and absences from school than any other illness. Adults get about 2-3 colds each year, and children may get even more.

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Q:The common cold is caused by viruses. True or false?

A:True.

Colds are caused by different types of viruses, with rhinoviruses causing the majority of colds. Other possible types of virus that can cause colds include adenoviruses, coronaviruses, enteroviruses, parainfluenza viruses, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Rhinoviruses can cause other conditions as well as colds, such as sinus infections, pneumonia, ear infections, and sore throats. They can also trigger asthma attacks.

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Q:What are signs and symptoms of the common cold?

A:The most common symptoms of a cold are nasal congestion or stuffiness, watery eyes, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, and low-grade fever.

Coughing and sneezing may follow these symptoms. Symptoms of a cold develop 1-3 days after exposure to the virus. The duration of cold symptoms varies, but 7-10 days is typical.

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Q:Is the common cold contagious?

A:Yes.

The common cold is contagious and is spread from person to person. A person with a cold virus infection is contagious for about 24 hours before symptoms appear, and for up to about 5 days after symptoms develop.

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Q:What is the cure for the common cold?

A:There are remedies that can bring relief of cold symptoms, but there is no cure for the common cold.

Home remedies to relieve symptoms include rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking over-the-counter pain and fever medications. Antibiotics are not effective against colds since they do not work against viruses.

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Q:What is the medical term for the common cold?

A:True.

Doctors use the term "upper respiratory infection" when describing a cold.

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Q:What is one of the best possible ways to prevent colds?

A:Good handwashing practices are an excellent way to prevent colds.

It's important to wash hands often and well with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based sanitizer product if soap and water are not available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands, as this can cause cold viruses to enter your body. Avoiding close contact with people who are sick with a cold can also help prevent your contracting the infection.

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