What causes the common cold?

Rhinovirus is the most common cause of the cold. It can be spread through contact with an infected person, or through contact with an infected surface. The virus can be transmitted by touching your face with unwashed hands after touching an infected surface. It can also be transmitted through respiratory secretions.

What are the symptoms of the common cold?

  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose

Followed by:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing

How long does the common cold last?

The common cold typically lasts between 7 and 10 days.

How actually common is the common cold?

The common cold is the most likely reason that people miss work or school. Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more. The common cold is most likely to occur in the winter or spring, but it can happen any time of the year.

How can I prevent getting a cold?

  • Wash your hands often
  • Do not touch your face with unwashed hands
  • Stay away from people who have the cold

How can I prevent spreading the cold?

  • Stay at home from work or school if you are sick
  • Avoid contact with healthy people
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Dispose of the tissue and wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Disinfect surfaces you touch

What are my treatment options?

There is no cure, vaccine, or antibiotic for the common cold. Treatments for feeling better include:

  • Get lots of rest
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Take cold medicine as directed

When should I see a doctor?

See a doctor if you have a temperature higher than 100.4 ºF, your symptoms last longer than 10 days, or your symptoms are severe or unusual.

For more information on the common cold, visit http://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/.