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Common Cold

Summary

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.

Start Here

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  • (American Academy of Family Physicians)
  • (American Lung Association)
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Diagnosis and Tests

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  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in

Prevention and Risk Factors

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Also in

Treatments and Therapies

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

Related Issues

  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology) - PDF Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
  • (American Academy of Pediatrics) Also in
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

Specifics

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health) Also in

Statistics and Research

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)

Striking laughter

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

  • (Commoncold, Inc.)

Find an Expert

  • From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • (Nemours Foundation)
  • (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
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  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Teenagers

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Patient Handouts