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MAIN Arrow to Health Health Arrow to Common Cold Common Cold

Anyone can get a cold. In fact, most people catch cold at least once or twice per year, and children may get a cold as many as 8 to 10 times a year.

Most colds are caused by airborne viruses known as rhinoviruses. Colds are contagious and can be spread rather easily. Symptoms usually appear 2 to 3 days after infection.

How to avoid colds

also see in Health:

Cold symptoms - sneezing, coughing, runny nose

Natural flu remedies

Colds are transmitted when a person inhales airborne particles that are dispersed when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A cold can also be transmitted by touching infected surfaces and then touching your face around the mouth or nose.

A weakened immune system may bring on symptoms, but contrary to popular belief going outside unprotected in cold weather is not a direct cause of the common cold.

Because colds are caused by an airborne virus, they are usually spread quickly and easily through households, schools and the workplace.

Avoiding contact with those who are sick is the best method of prevention. You can also take steps to prevent the spread of colds by washing your hands, keeping surfaces clean, and covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze and cough.

Bolstering the immune system during cold season can reduce the chance of catching a cold or flu. A balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, increased intake of water or fruit juices, as well as supplements such as Vitamin C, echinacea and zinc can all help to ward off symptoms or reduce their severity if a cold does strike. Getting plenty of rest and avoiding stress also helps.

In addition, some studies show that cold viruses prefer warm, dry, indoor air during the winter months, so keeping a window open to let fresh air in, or using a room air humidifier may also decrease risk.

Cold symptoms

also see in the How-to Library

cold sore

How to get rid of a
cold sore or fever blister

Symptoms of a cold usually include sneezing, coughing, runny and/or stuffy nose, sore throat. A cold may be accompanied by a fever and/or headache. A cold can also cause fatigue, muscle aches and make a person feel generally miserable, and may last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

Cold comfort

There is no cure for the common cold which usually resolves on its own within 7 to 10 days, sometimes sooner. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate muscle aches and fever. Soup (especially chicken soup), hot tea or throat lozenges can soothe a sore irritated throat, and a decongestant can ease the discomfort of a stuffy nose.

It is wise to see a physician if symptoms do not improve or seem to get worse. The common cold could lead to other conditions such as strep throat, bronchitis, sinusitis or even pneumonia.

More information about cold remedies and prevention around the Web:


Out of Sick Days? Avoiding the Office Cold - Check out ways to prevent catching a cold at the workplace with advice on the germiest places and how to disinfect them.

Avoiding the Airplane Cold: Don't Get Sick After Flying- The Smarter Travel guide to causes and prevention.

Herbal remedies for cold - Here's an extensive list of recommended teas, herbs, along with remedies from the kitchen cabinet, with recommended dosages.


This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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