Common Cold

General Illness Information

Medical Term:

Upper Respiratory Infection, URI

Common name: Common Cold

Description: A contagious viral infection of the upper-respiratory passages


Any of at least 100 viruses. Virus particles spread through the air or from person-to-person contact, especially hand-shaking.


  • Wash hands frequently, especially after blowing your nose or handling food;
  • To prevent spreading a cold to others, avoid unnecessary contact during the contagious phase (first 2 to 4 days);
  • Avoid crowded places when possible, especially during the winter;
  • Eating a well-balanced, healthy diet that includes plenty of citrus fruits and other sources of vitamin C.

Some herbal supplements such as Echinacea, Goldenseal are popular as preventives.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Aches and pains;
  • Runny or stuffy nose. Nasal discharge is watery at first, then becomes thick and yellow;
  • Sore throat;
  • Hoarseness;
  • Cough that produces little or no sputum;
  • Low fever or no fever;
  • Fatigue;
  • Watery eyes;
  • Appetite loss.

Risk Factors

  • Exposure to infected individuals;
  • Touching one’s nose or conjunctiva with contaminated fingers.

Diagnosis & Treatment

This is a clinical diagnosis. No specific tests are necessary.

General Measures:

  • Use a cool-mist, ultrasonic humidifier to increase air moisture. Clean humidifier every day;
  • For a baby too young to blow his nose, use an infant nasal aspirator. If mucus is thick and sticky, loosen it by putting 2 or 3 drops of salt solution into each nostril;
  • Don’t insert cotton swabs into a child’s nostrils. Instead, catch the discharge outside the nostril on a tissue or swab, roll it around and pull the discharge out of the nose.


No medicine, including antibiotics, can cure the common cold. To relieve symptoms, you may use non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen, decongestants, nose drops or sprays, cough remedies and throat lozenges. Some herbal supplements such as Echinacea/Goldenseal may help in alleviating symptoms.


Bed rest is not necessary, but avoid vigorous activity. Rest often.


Regular diet. Drink extra fluids, including water, fruit juice, tea and carbonated drinks.

Possible Complications:

  • Lower respiratory tract infection;
  • Bronchial hyperreactivity;
  • May lead to exacerbation in patients with asthma and chronic lung disease;
  • Otitis media (2% of colds);
  • Acute sinusitis (0.5% of colds);
  • Pneumonia;
  • Rhinitis medicamentosa (from over use of nasal sprays).




Nothing Specified.

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