Common Cold

What is the common cold?

The common cold is a viral infection of the nose and throat. It usually leads to symptoms such as a runny nose and cough. These viruses are spread by droplets which are released into the air when coughing or sneezing. Taking measures to avoid passing infections, such as covering the nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing can help prevent catching a cold. People with a cold usually get better within a week.


Colds are caused by viruses that infect the nose and throat. These viruses are spread by droplets in the air when coughing or sneezing. It is a very common condition which can affect people of all ages. Many people catch a cold more than once a year, and children may have a cold as many as 5 or 6 times a year.


The typical symptoms include a runny and blocked nose, a dry cough, and a sore throat.


The diagnosis is usually easily made based on the symptoms.


Colds don't usually need any specific treatment. Some people take measures to improve their symptoms. This might include drinking hot liquids, using lozenges to soothe a sore throat, or using decongestant sprays to clear the nose. Some people find the steam from a warm shower helps to clear their nose and throat.


Maintaining good hygiene, such as washing hands and covering the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, is helpful in preventing the spread of viruses and avoiding episodes of a cold.

Other names for common cold

  • Acute nasopharyngitis
  • Cold