Sneezing, sore throat, a stuffy nose, coughing - everyone knows the symptoms of the common cold. It is probably the most common illness. In the course of a year, people in the United States suffer 1 billion colds.
You can get a cold by touching your eyes or nose after you touch surfaces with cold germs on them. You can also inhale the germs. Symptoms usually begin 2 or 3 days after infection and last 2 to 14 days. Washing your hands and staying away from people with colds will help you avoid colds.
There is no cure for the common cold. But there are treatments that can make you feel better while you wait for the cold to go away on its own:
- Getting plenty of rest
- Drinking fluids
- Gargling with warm salt water
- Using cough drops or throat sprays
- Taking over-the-counter pain or cold medicines
However, do not give aspirin to children. And do not give cough medicine to children under four.
Treatments and Therapies
- 5 Tips: Natural Products for the Flu and Colds: What Does the Science Say? (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
- Flu and Colds: In Depth (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) Also in Spanish
- Adenoviruses (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Colds, Allergies and Sinusitis - How to Tell the Difference (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology) - PDF Also in Spanish
- Is It Flu, COVID-19, Allergies, or a Cold? Staying Healthy This Winter (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Limit Asthma Attacks Caused by Colds or Flu (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Marvels of Mucus and Phlegm: The Slime That Keeps You Healthy (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
- Rhinovirus Infections (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in Spanish
- Runny Nose (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Common Cold (National Institutes of Health)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Misdiagnosis of COVID-19 infection before molecular confirmation in Sulaimaniyah City, Iraq.
- Article: Survey of potentially inappropriate prescriptions for common cold symptoms in Japan:...
- Article: SARS-CoV-2 vaccination diversifies the CD4+ spike-reactive T cell repertoire in patients...
- Common Cold -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Are Antibiotics Needed for My Child's Runny Nose? Q & A Guide for Parents (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) - PDF
- Colds (For Kids) (Nemours Foundation)
- Common Cold in Babies: Symptoms and Causes (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Is It a Cold, the Flu, or COVID-19? (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Should You Give Kids Medicine for Coughs and Colds? (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish