A Guide To The Common Cold

The common cold affects a lot of people throughout the colder months of the year. This is because it is a viral disease that can be transmitted through the air and through contact with other individuals who currently have the disease. There are ways to prevent the common cold from happening, also alleviating the symptoms the person has from the cold. 

What is the Common Cold?

The common cold is known by other names as well such as a cold, nasopharyngitis, acute coryza, and acute viral rhinopharyngitis. It is a viral disease that affects the upper respiratory system. It is mainly caused by the coronavirus and rhinovirus. The most common signs of a cold are a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and fever. The common cold cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be alleviated. The cold can last as little as 7 days, or as much as three weeks. The cold is the most frequently passed infectious disease within humans.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a cold usually do not show themselves until 2 or 3 days after coming in contact with the virus. While it can take up to a week for the signs and symptoms to appear, they can appear in as little as 10 hours as well. Symptoms are usually more noticeable in the nasal area. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Runny, congested nose
  • Scratchy, sore throat
  • Itchy, runny eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Depending on the type of virus that you have contracted, there might be a low to moderate fever.
  • A decrease in appetite
  • Cough
  • Head and muscle aches
  • Post nasal drip


There are thousands of different types of cold viruses found in the world today. Colds are the most common type of illness. Parents may contract colds from their children who are infected at school. Children can catch anywhere from six to eight colds per year largely because of how quickly they spread in daycare and school settings. People can catch a cold at any time of year, but they are most frequently caught when it is rainy or cold outside. A cold can be spread through air droplets that are so tiny that they cannot be seen. They are released when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or blows their nose. You can easily catch the cold if:

  • Someone with a cold blows their nose, sneezes, or coughs around you.
  • You touch your mouth, eyes, nose after you touch something that is contaminated by the virus which could be a doorknob, toy, or any other surface.

The common cold is normally not contagious after the first week of infection.

Prevention and Management

As mentioned above, the common cold cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be alleviated through different measures. Drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough rest when you have a cold can help the cold move through your system faster. Over the counter cold medicines might also be helpful when it comes to alleviating any cold symptoms you might be feeling. They are not recommended for children under the age of 6, however. They will not make the cold go away faster, but they can help you feel better. Other common treatments for the cold include chicken soup or stock, Zinc, and Vitamin C. Chicken soup or stock has been used in the past to help the common cold. The mixture of fluid, heat, and salt can help fight off the infection. Zinc can be taken in pill form and if taken for 5 days or more can actually help prevent the virus from happening. It can also help your symptoms be less severe, and help the virus run its course faster. Vitamin C is one of the most popular forms of treating the common cold. It can also prevent colds. Those that take Vitamin C have shorter colds, with much milder symptoms.

Preventing a cold can be tricky. There is no “fool proof” way to prevent a cold, but you can reduce your chances of contracting a cold through a few simple steps.

  • Always wash your hands. You should wash them after touching an infected person, touching objects that have been handled by an infected person, and if you are infected, you should wash your hands after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, before and after eating or preparing food, or touching your face.
  • Use liquid hand sanitizer. This can help to kill 99.99 percent of germs on contact. It is the fastest way to kill germs when you are not able to go to a sink to wash your hands. 
  • Disinfect everything that you come in contact with. This means doorknobs, handles, counter tops, or anything that you touch that other people touch. An EPA approved disinfectant should be used.
  • Choose a smaller class or daycare setting for a little one. The fewer kids there are in the room together, the less of a chance there is that your children will contract a cold.
  • Use disposable paper towels instead of sharing cloth towels.

Boost your immune system to fight off colds:

  • Drink a lot of water each and every day.
  • Avoid smoking and second hand smoke since this is a cause for a lot of health problems, one of them being colds.
  • Eat a lot of yogurt. Active cultures are present within yogurt, and this type of bacteria can help fight against colds.
  • Sleep well and enough. The less sleep you have, the more likely your chances of catching a cold or other sickness.


The term “common cold” started being widely used during the 16th century. This is due to the symptoms that the person received around the time cold weather appeared. Common colds were thought to be caused by autotoxemia, polypi, or sinus trouble. Benjamin Franklin conducted research on the common cold in the 18th century to find out how to prevent the sickness. Throughout several years of research, he finally came to the conclusion that it was a viral condition. This is because people seemed to catch the cold when they were shut up in small places, close to one another. Viruses were not yet discovered during this time, but Franklin came up with the hypothesis that the cold can be passed to people through the air. For prevention, he recommended that people bathe, exercise, and have a moderate diet. His hypothesis of the common cold transmission was not confirmed until around 150 years later.