What Symptoms are Associated with the Common Cold?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 September 2019
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The common cold is often a misunderstood illness. It can be caused by over 200 different viruses, and most affect children, though adults usually get about three colds a year. Children in school may have as many as 12 colds a year. More commonly, however, children get about five to eight colds a year. Adults and older children tend not to be quite as susceptible to the common cold because they have built up immunity to some of the viruses causing the cold. However, parents tend to get colds from their children, though they may be sick for less time. Symptoms of the common cold include itchy throat, stuffy nose, coughing, and slight fever. Knowing the symptoms is of value, because colds that include other symptoms may indicate infection.

A common cold can last for up to two weeks, though most people experience about a week of symptoms. Usually symptoms of the common cold occur within a few days of exposure to a causal virus. Those affected may initially notice an itchy throat, or sneezing. The nose quickly becomes more congested, with nasal secretions thickening and becoming green to yellow in the first four to five days. If nasal secretions remain green for longer than the first week, those affected may have developed a sinus infection.


The common cold may be associated with fever up to 102° F. (38.88° C.) Fever associated with the common cold may last for two to three days, usually peaking by the fourth or fifth day. Adults and teenagers may not experience a fever. Fever beyond the sixth day of a cold may indicate the presence of infection of the ears, sinuses or may be associated with bronchitis.

Cough usually begins within a few days of onset of symptoms. Coughs associated with the common cold may produce some mucous at onset, and the cough usually remains for up to a week once other symptoms have cleared. Increasing cough and production of green mucus may indicate bronchitis, particularly when associated with fever. As well, young children with significant cough may be susceptible to croup, a barking cough that gets worse at night. Children with croup should be seen by a doctor to rule out infection.

Extreme sore throat accompanied by fever is not a usual symptom of the common cold. It may indicate other viruses or bacterial infections like strep throat. Fever is usually higher and tends not to resolve within a few days. Children with a very sore throat instead of an itchy throat should probably see a doctor.

A common cold is a virus and cannot be cured with antibiotics. However, some get secondary infections as a result of a cold and need antibiotics to cure these. Secondary infections can include ear infections, sinus infections, tonsillitis, and bronchitis or pneumonia. Often children prone to ear infections will get them during colds. Symptoms indicating ear infections include complaints of pain in the ear, or excess crying in infants, and watery or infected looking eyes.

In healthy adults and older children, the common cold frequently resolves without complications. Those with weakened immune symptoms may be more prone to secondary infections, and thus, preventing colds by limiting exposure to those who are ill, by using waterless handwash with alcohol in crowded public places, by refraining from smoking, and by drinking six to eight glasses of water daily, may help reduce the number of colds one gets per year.


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Post 3

Suntan12- What I do when I have a cold is just sleep and drink lots of fluid. Treating the common cold with chicken soup is also beneficial.

It tastes great and really eases your symptoms up a bit.

The causes of the common cold could also include touching something that was infected with the cold virus. This is why many schools have hand sanitizers everywhere so that students could rid themselves of any potential germs immediately reducing the number of cases of the common cold.

You will also find these measures in many cruise ships as well. Since there are a lot of people in close quarters many cruise ships offer hand sanitation stations at the entrance

of a dining area and throughout various sections of the ship.

It is also important that when you sneeze you cover your face with arm slightly bent at the elbow. Covering your face with your hand helps but you will have the germs on your hands and then you could touch something and leave the germs behind and someone else can pick it up.

Post 2

Sneakers41- I agree with you. I wanted to add that my children’s pediatrician reserves the flu shots for children two and under and the rest of the kids are given the mist because of vaccine shortages.

They both are equally effective.

I think that any preventive common cold treatment is necessary because children pick up colds so easily and it so disruptive to their schooling that something needs to be done.

I always tell my children to wash their hands and never put their hands in their eyes, nose, or mouth because these are the common areas of transmissions of a cold.

It is hard to get rid of a common cold which is why I try so hard to prevent it from coming.

Post 1

I always get a flu vaccine for my children every year. Since they are susceptible to so many illnesses like the common cold and flu I do this as a preventive measure.

The nurse usually gives them the flu mist which is nice because you don’t have to worry about them getting scared about having a shot.

The only thing to keep in mind with the flu mist is that you have to let the mist stay inside the nose.

Many children will have a natural tendency to want to blow their nose and they can’t because that will eliminate the vaccine. I highly recommend it because my children rarely get sick.

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