Common cold: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and more


The common cold is a condition that affects your nose and your throat. Usually, it is not a major health concern and goes away on its own after a few days. It is caused by germs known as viruses and can cause a lot of discomfort to the infected person. It has been seen that most adults get this common cold at least two or three times a year. The common cold is one of the most prevalent and widely spread illnesses around the world. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause the common cold but the most common ones are the rhinoviruses.

Symptoms of Common Cold

You may not develop the symptoms of the common cold right away. It generally occurs 1 to 3 days after getting infected with the virus. It may begin with sneezing and the below-mentioned symptoms may accompany with time:

  • Nose congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Not able to smell or taste properly
  • Watery eyes
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Tiredness
  • Chills
  • Body pain
  • Difficulty in breathing

These symptoms may last for 7 to 10 days and in case they get out of control, you must get yourself checked by a professional healthcare practitioner.

Transmission of a common cold

It is a highly contagious disease and spreads through the droplets produced from the sneeze of an infected person. If an infected person touches his nose or mouth and then touches a surface, the virus gets to the surface and may enter another person’s body when they come in contact with it.

Diagnosis of a common cold

Usually, the common cold goes away without the need to visit a doctor’s clinic. However, if the symptoms get worse and last longer than 10 days, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately.

Your doctor will begin the diagnosis by asking very few basic questions like how long you have had the symptoms, medicines that you may have taken and other related queries. The condition of your eyes is also examined. The doctor will check if you have a fever and may even recommend getting a chest X-ray.

Treatment of Common Cold

As such there is no specific cure for the common cold. The symptoms usually go away after 7 to 10 days. Some common home remedies include:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Resting properly
  • Using humidifier
  • Using saline nasal liquids to cleanse the area
  • Saltwater Gargle
  • Vicks vapor rub
  • Warm bath

In case the symptoms do not get mild, you can use over-the-counter medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, pain relievers, etc. However, keep in mind that these medicines may cause certain side effects like dizziness, dehydration, drowsiness, headaches, etc.

Along with the above measures, you must also not smoke or use tobacco as it may irritate the nose and the lungs. Moreover, you must also eat nutritious food so that the body gets strong and fights against the virus.

Prevention of common cold

  • Wash your hands whenever you touch a foreign object
  • Do not keep touching your face every now and then
  • Practice proper hygiene and keep your surroundings clean
  • Drink lots of water and other liquids to keep the body hydrated
  • Eat a healthy diet to keep your immune system strong

Complications of a common cold

In children and young people, a common cold may lead to the weakening of their immune system and cause other infections in the ear and sinus.

Items to eat or drink if you have a cold

Soup: Sipping warm liquids helps your sinus to open quickly and you are able to breathe properly. The salt in the soup also eases your irritated throat.

Hot tea: Drinking hot tea after adding a slice of ginger to it will help reduce inflammation.

Probiotics: Food such as tempeh, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, etc. have lots of probiotics in them that give strength to your gut and help your body fight against the common cold.

Factors that increase the risk

Time of the year: Most common cold cases are witnessed during the winter and rainy seasons.

Age: Those below the age of 6 are more at risk of developing the common cold. They are also the ones who spread it the most as they tend to socialize and spend a great deal of time outside the home.

Environment: If the environment around you has common cold viruses and you come in contact with them, you may get a common cold easily.

Poor immune system: People who have a weak immune system either due to poor diet, lack of sleep or any other reason, are at a greater risk of developing a common cold.

The above information will surely help you manage the symptoms of the common cold on your own but if things get out of control and if your day-to-day activities are affected drastically, it is advised that you consult a professional healthcare practitioner.


This blog has been written after performing in-depth secondary research related to the topic from various articles, blogs, and journals with expertise in writing for healthcare. The content on this page should not be considered a substitute for medical expertise.


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