What is the Common Cold?1
The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract which includes the nose and throat. Millions of people experience 2-3 colds a year, while some may have as many as 4-6 in a year. Most cold infections occur when people are around others who are sick because the virus may be on things the sick person touches, or can travel through the air when they sneeze. Contrary to popular belief, buildings with central heating, being outside in cold weather, walking barefoot outside, and swollen tonsils do not increase your chances of getting a cold. A cold usually lasts for about a week, but may last up to 2 weeks.
What should I look for?2
Symptoms begin in 2-3 days and can include:
Unlike the flu, colds typically do not cause high fever, muscle aches and pains, nausea, or vomiting. Cold symptoms also start to get better in about a week whereas the flu may last 1-2 weeks.
Will antibiotics cure my cold?1
No. There is no specific treatment or cure for the common cold. Treatment focus is to reduce spreading the virus as much as possible, and to reduce the most bothersome symptoms.
What should I use for my symptoms?
What else can I do and when should I go to the doctor?
Other than taking medicine, drinking plenty of water, eating healthy food, and using humidifiers can also help to reduce symptom severity and duration.2 Also remember to go to the doctor if any of the following occur:1
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting a new medicine to make sure they will not interact with anything you currently take.
1. Fashner J, Ericson K, Werner S. Treatment of the Common Cold in Children and Adults. Mishawaka, Indiana: American Academy of Family Physicians; July 12, 2012.
2. Berardi R, et al. Handbook of nonprescription drugs: An interactive approach to self-care. Sixteenth ed. Young L, ed. Philadelphia, PA, United States: American Pharmacists Association; April 9, 2015.
3. Taos R. What you need to know about the common cold [Infographic] – living green magazine. Living Green Magazine. http://livinggreenmag.com/