Common cold

Common cold
SynonymsCold, acute viral nasopharyngitis, nasopharyngitis, viral rhinitis, rhinopharyngitis, acute coryza, head cold[1]
A representation of the molecular surface of one variant of human rhinovirus
SpecialtyInfectious disease
SymptomsCough, sore throat, runny nose, fever[2][3]
ComplicationsOtitis media, sinusitis[4]
Usual onset~2 days from exposure[5]
Duration1–3 weeks[2][6]
Differential diagnosisAllergic rhinitis, bronchitis, pertussis, sinusitis[4]
PreventionHand washing, face mask[2]
TreatmentSymptomatic therapy,[2] zinc[8]
Frequency2–4 per year (adults); 6–8 per year (young children)[10]

The common cold, also known simply as a cold, is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract that primarily affects the nose.[7] The throat, sinuses, and larynx may also be affected.[5] Signs and symptoms may appear less than two days after exposure to the virus.[5] These may include coughing, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, headache, and fever.[2][3] People usually recover in seven to ten days,[2] but some symptoms may last up to three weeks.[6] Occasionally those with other health problems may develop pneumonia.[2]

Well over 200 virus strains are implicated in causing the common cold, with rhinoviruses being the most common.[11] They spread through the air during close contact with infected people or indirectly through contact with objects in the environment, followed by transfer to the mouth or nose.[2] Risk factors include going to daycare, not sleeping well, and psychological stress.[5] The symptoms are mostly due to the body's immune response to the infection rather than to tissue destruction by the viruses themselves.[12] In contrast, those affected by influenza can show similar symptoms as people with a cold, but symptoms are usually more severe.[5] Additionally, influenza is less likely to result in a runny nose.[13]

There is no vaccine for the common cold.[2] The primary methods of prevention are hand washing; not touching the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; and staying away from sick people.[2] Some evidence supports the use of face masks.[14] There is also no cure, but the symptoms can be treated.[2] Zinc may reduce the duration and severity of symptoms if started shortly after the onset of symptoms.[8] Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen may help with pain.[9] Antibiotics, however, should not be used[15] and there is no good evidence for cough medicines.[5][16]

The common cold is the most frequent infectious disease in humans.[17] The average adult gets two to three colds a year, while the average child may get six to eight.[7][10] Infections occur more commonly during the winter.[2] These infections have existed throughout human history.[18]

Signs and symptoms

The typical symptoms of a cold include a cough, a runny nose, nasal congestion and a sore throat, sometimes accompanied by muscle ache, fatigue, headache, and loss of appetite.[19] A sore throat is present in about 40% of cases and a cough in about 50%,[7] while muscle ache occurs in about half.[3] In adults, a fever is generally not present but it is common in infants and young children.[3] The cough is usually mild compared to that accompanying influenza.[3] While a cough and a fever indicate a higher likelihood of influenza in adults, a great deal of similarity exists between these two conditions.[20] A number of the viruses that cause the common cold may also result in asymptomatic infections.[21][22]

The color of the sputum or nasal secretion may vary from clear to yellow to green and does not indicate the class of agent causing the infection.[23]


A cold usually begins with fatigue, a feeling of being chilled, sneezing, and a headache, followed in a couple of days by a runny nose and cough.[19] Symptoms may begin within sixteen hours of exposure[24] and typically peak two to four days after onset.[3][25] They usually resolve in seven to ten days, but some can last for up to three weeks.[6] The average duration of cough is eighteen days[26] and in some cases people develop a post-viral cough which can linger after the infection is gone.[27] In children, the cough lasts for more than ten days in 35–40% of cases and continues for more than 25 days in 10%.[28]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Verkoue
Alemannisch: Erkältung
العربية: زكام
aragonés: Resfriato común
armãneashti: Arâțimi
অসমীয়া: পানীলগা জ্বৰ
asturianu: Resfriáu común
Avañe'ẽ: Tĩpa'ã
Aymar aru: Thayjata
azərbaycanca: Zökəm
تۆرکجه: زؤکام
Bân-lâm-gú: Kám-mō͘
башҡортса: Назофарингит
беларуская: Назафарынгіт
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Застуда
български: Настинка
Boarisch: Schtraukn
bosanski: Prehlada
brezhoneg: Sifern
català: Refredat
Cebuano: Sip-on
čeština: Nachlazení
Cymraeg: Annwyd
Deutsch: Erkältung
ދިވެހިބަސް: އަރިދަފުސް ރޯގާ
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Ferdōr
Esperanto: Malvarmumo
euskara: Hotzeri
Fiji Hindi: Sardi
français: Rhume
Gaeilge: Slaghdán
galego: Arrefriado
한국어: 감기
հայերեն: Մրսածություն
हिन्दी: ज़ुकाम
Ilokano: Panateng
Bahasa Indonesia: Pilek
interlingua: Frigido (maladia)
íslenska: Kvef
עברית: הצטננות
Basa Jawa: Masuk angin
ಕನ್ನಡ: ನೆಗಡಿ
қазақша: Назофарингит
Kiswahili: Mafua ya kawaida
Кыргызча: Суук тийүү
Latina: Gravedo
latviešu: Saaukstēšanās
lietuvių: Peršalimas
Luganda: Ekifuba
lumbaart: Infreggiô
magyar: Megfázás
македонски: Настинка
മലയാളം: ജലദോഷം
მარგალური: ნაზოფარინგიტი
Bahasa Melayu: Selesema
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Gāng-mô̤
မြန်မာဘာသာ: အအေးမိခြင်း
Nederlands: Verkoudheid
Nedersaksies: Verkeuldheaid
नेपाली: रुगा (रोग)
日本語: 風邪
Napulitano: Ciamurr
norsk nynorsk: Forkjøling
occitan: Raumàs
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ଶର୍ଦ୍ଦି
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Shamollash
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਜੁਕਾਮ
پنجابی: زکام
Patois: Kaman kuol
Piemontèis: Anfreidor
português: Constipação
Runa Simi: Ch’uju unquy
русский: Назофарингит
саха тыла: Тымныйыы
sicilianu: Rifridduri
Simple English: Common cold
slovenščina: Prehlad
کوردی: سەرمابوون
српски / srpski: Прехлада
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Prehlada
Basa Sunda: Salésma
suomi: Flunssa
svenska: Förkylning
தமிழ்: தடிமன்
татарча/tatarça: Назофарингит
తెలుగు: జలుబు
Türkçe: Nezle
українська: Застуда
اردو: زکام
Tiếng Việt: Cảm lạnh
West-Vlams: Vollienge
Winaray: Sip-on
吴语: 普通感冒
ייִדיש: פארקילונג
粵語: 傷風
中文: 普通感冒