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Colds (cont.)

Causes of Colds

Most viruses that cause colds are very contagious and are transmitted from person to person.

  • Of the viruses that cause a cold, the most commonly occurring subtype is a group that lives in the nasal passages known as the "rhinovirus." Other less common cold viruses include coronavirus, adenovirus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
  • Cold viruses may spread through the air and can be transmitted from airborne droplets expelled when someone with a cold coughs or sneezes.
  • The primary means of spreading a cold is through hand-to-face or -mouth contact or from objects that have been touched by someone with a cold, or by touching items where droplets produced by coughs or sneezes have recently landed and then touching the face or mouth.
    • The typical transmission occurs when a cold sufferer rubs his or her nose and then, shortly thereafter, touches or shakes hands with someone who, in turn, touches his or her own nose, mouth, or eyes.
    • Virus transmission also often occurs via frequently shared or touched objects such as doorknobs and other hard surfaces, handrails, grocery carts, telephones, and computer keyboards.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2015

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

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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