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The common cold usually will go away in usually about five to 10 days although some symptoms may last as long as three weeks in some individuals. Americans get over 1 billion colds per year and rarely report any complications.
In general, pregnant women and their fetus usually have no complications if the mother develops a cold. Pregnant females should consult their OB/GYN doctor before using any medical treatments.
Among the elderly and other groups of people with serious medical conditions, a cold may sometimes lead to a serious problem. Those people should see a doctor early during the course of a cold as a preventive measure.
When symptoms first develop, a person is very contagious, but after about six to seven days of symptoms that gradually decrease, most individuals are no longer contagious. Some colds last about two weeks, and some colds are contagious during the latter part of the incubation period before symptoms develop.
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Mandell, Douglas, John E. Bennett, and Raphael Dolin. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. Seventh Edition. "Influenza Viruses, Including Avian Influenza and Swine Influenza." Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2010.
Switzerland. World Health Organization. "Influenza." <http://www.who.int/topics/influenza/en/>.
United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Seasonal Influenza (Flu)." <http://CDC.gov/flu>.
United States. Department of Health & Human Services. "Seasonal Flu."