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Colds Overview

A cold is defined as an upper respiratory infection caused by a virus that usually affects the nose but may also affect the throat, sinuses, eustachian tubes, trachea, larynx, and bronchial tubes but not the lungs. The cold is the most commonly occurring illness in the entire world. The common cold is a self-limiting illness caused by any one of more than 250 viruses. However, the most common causes of colds are rhinoviruses. Colds may also be termed coryza, nasopharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis, and sniffles. Everyone is susceptible to colds.

The common cold produces mild symptoms (see below) usually lasting only five to 10 days although some symptoms may last for up to three weeks. In contrast, the "flu" (influenza), which is caused by a different class of virus, can cause severe symptoms but initially may mimic a cold.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2015
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Colds:

Common Cold - Symptoms

What symptoms did you experience with your cold?

Common Cold - Home Remedy

What home remedy did you use on your colds?

Common Cold - Symptoms

What was your common cold symptoms and signs?

What are the symptoms of a cold?

Lots of different viruses cause colds, but the symptoms are usually the same:

  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Red eyes
  • Sore throat and cough
  • Headaches and body aches

You will probably feel a cold come on over the course of a couple of days. As the cold gets worse, your nose may get stuffy with thicker mucus.

A cold is not the same as the flu. Flu symptoms are worse and come on faster. If you have the flu, you may feel very tired. You may also have a fever and shaking chills, lots of aches and pains, a headache, and a cough.

SOURCE: Healthwise

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Rhinoviruses »

The common cold is an acute respiratory tract infection (ARTI) characterized by mild coryzal symptoms, rhinorrhea, nasal obstruction, and sneezing.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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