Skip to main content

Common Cold

Ill woman sneezing | Healthier Me TodayThe common cold and related Common Cold Risk Factors! Also known as ‘acute rhinitis,’ is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. It is the most common acute illness in the developed world. However, there is a seasonal variance with higher occurrences during the winter months. An adult typically might suffer two to four infections per year, whereas a child may suffer six to eight infections per year.

There are more than 200 viruses that may cause a cold.

  1. Rhinoviruses: This is the number one category of viruses that causes the common cold and has over 100 serotypes.
  2. Coronaviruses: Four common coronaviruses that cause the common cold are HCoV- 229E, HCoVNL-63,  HCoV-OC43, and HCoV- HKU1. These cause 10-15% of all cases of the common cold.
  3. Influenza Viruses: Also known as the flu, these illnesses cause about 5-15% of the cases.
  4. Human Parainfluenza Viruses: This virus also causes the common cold and is more frequent during the spring, summer, and fall.
  5. Respiratory Syncytial Virus: It can cause about 5% of cases and is usually brought about after a case of bronchitis.

Common Cold Symptoms

woman in white crew neck t-shirt sitting on gray sofa

The common cold is a viral illness that usually lasts for a week however, you can find a treatment of common cold pretty easily!. Cold viruses are taken into the body when you breathe them in through the air or when you touch surfaces that have them before subsequently touching your eyes and mouth. Cold viruses also enter the body from clothes or having direct contact with someone who has the virus. This is because the eyes, ears, nose, and throat are interconnected.

Cold viruses pass through these tubes and cavities to cause the symptoms. The cold viruses grow in soft, warm surfaces such as the nose, throat, sinuses, and airways. Infection with cold viruses causes the immune system to produce antibodies that attach to the virus and destroy it. The body also makes mucous, which traps the viruses. The viruses are either swallowed and killed in the stomach (via stomach acids) or removed when you blow your nose. Excess mucous production causes the symptoms of sneezing, coughing, and a stuffy nose.

Sometimes you may have a headache caused by the pressure of the sinuses being blocked by the mucous. The body gradually fights the infection, and you feel better after approximately a week. Other symptoms often seen are:

  • Pharyngitis (Sore Throat)
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Low-grade fever, headaches, and fatigue

These symptoms are unlikely in the common cold, but it might be the flu if you have them.

Common Cold Risk Factors

  • Coming into contact with a sick person or being in a daycare with children (since they are more susceptible to common colds) is one of the biggest Common Cold Risk Factors!
  • Having a history of respiratory tract diseases or allergies will automatically result in Common Cold Risk Factors!
  • Smoking
  • Immunosuppression from factors like stress
  • Decreased sleep/fatigue
  • Inactive lifestyle

Diagnosis of Common Cold & Treatment of Common Cold

Clinical diagnosis of common cold: Experiencing multiple symptoms, including coughing, stuffy/runny nose, and headaches.

Treatment of common cold: The common cold is self-limiting, meaning it goes away independently. Also, there is no cure for the common cold, but the symptoms can be managed till the severity of the cold reduces.

How To Manage Symptoms

  • Drink plenty of warm fluids
  • Rest
  • Gargle with warm salt-water
  • Decongestants (in case the blocked nose is causing difficulty in breathing)
  • Cough suppressants
  • For any other aches or pain, use acetaminophen (Tylenol)


  1. Why does the probability of catching a cold increase in winter? In cold weather, people stay indoors more and are thus more likely to spread the virus to one another. In addition, there is evidence from studies that show that these viruses thrive at low temperatures and low humidity.
  1. When should I see my doctor? – diagnosis of common cold? If you experience a runny nose or coughing for longer than a week, you may want to see a doctor.

Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment. Always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!