What Is the Common Cold?

Feb 16, 2018
The common cold is a virus that affects the upper respiratory tract. The average person will have a cold from two to four times a year. Children tend to have colds more often.

The common cold is a virus that affects the upper respiratory tract. The average person will have a cold from two to four times a year. Children tend to have colds more often. Because the cold is contagious, it is easy to contract when children attend school.

While most people suffer from a cold on occasion, there are measures you can take to avoid contracting the virus. If you have contracted a cold and the symptoms do not reduce within a week or two, you may be suffering from complications. Any long-lasting nasal symptoms should be diagnosed and treated to avoid developing a painful and dangerous infection.


There are several symptoms of the common cold. Many of these symptoms could also be a sign of another condition, such as allergies or sinus pressure related to the inner structure of the nasal passages. Symptoms of a cold include:

  • Fatigue
  • Body aches or headaches
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or stuffy nose
  • Fever up to 102 degrees

If you are experiencing more than one of these symptoms for a period of a week or more, it is likely that you have contracted the common cold. You should rest and take care of yourself, as well as limiting your exposure to other people. The cold is easily spread, and you should take time off from work or school to protect others from contracting the virus.


There is no cure for the common cold, but there are several actions you can take to relieve the symptoms and recover more quickly. The best way to heal when you have a cold is simply to drink lots of fluids and get extra rest. Your body just needs time to heal, so you should take it easy and let the virus run its course.

If your cold symptoms are getting more severe or you are experiencing a high fever, you may be suffering from something more serious. If this occurs, you may want to see a doctor. Dr. Zadeh is an ear, nose, and throat specialist, and an authority on diseases and conditions affecting the area. He is well- equipped to help determine are suffering from a common cold or if your symptoms indicate something more severe.


The cold is spread through contact with someone else with the virus. If another person around you has a cold, minimize your contact until they are recovered. Items such as phones and doorknobs that are used by many people can spread the virus.

A cold is so contagious that the most important action to take is to isolate yourself when you are sick to avoid spreading the virus to others. It may be tempting to go in to work while suffering from a cold, but you are putting your coworkers at risk.

Washing your hands frequently and keeping shared items disinfected can be helpful in preventing the cold virus from spreading.


There are several methods that help to relieve the unpleasant symptoms of a cold. The most important way to recover quickly is to ensure you have plenty of rest. Hydration is also important as you lose fluids during a cold, so consuming liquids, including water, are important in aiding a full recovery.

It is also important to eat nutritious foods and avoid consuming sugar and junk food. Vitamin C is known to be helpful in treating the common cold.

If rest, hydration, and nutrition are not sufficient, there are over-the-counter medications available. These mask symptoms, and do not treat the actual virus. Nasal sprays, cough syrups, and pain relievers can provide some relief to symptoms. If the symptoms persist and none of the measures you are taking are effective, you may be experiencing a condition or illness that is not the common cold.


If your cold is not resolving, you could be at risk of infections and other complications. The most common cold complication is an ear infection, a common complication in children, but adults can also develop this painful condition. If you are experiencing earaches along with other cold symptoms, it is important to get medical care, as an ear infection can develop into a very serious condition.

A cold can also lead to dangerous infections such as a strep throat, or pneumonia. You must be sure to monitor the symptoms of a cold to ensure that the virus is not developing into a dangerous health condition. While most colds simply take time to heal, if you have a weaker immune system or certain medical conditions, a cold can quickly advance into a very serious problem.


If you are having symptoms that seem unusual or if your cold lasts longer than two weeks, you must see a doctor as soon as possible.

As an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Dr. Zadeh can evaluate your condition and symptoms to make a diagnosis and provide effective treatment. He is knowledgeable and professional, and is one of the leading ear, nose, and throat specialists in Los Angeles.