Common cold

Common cold

The common cold—an acute, usually afebrile viral infection—causes inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. It accounts for more time lost from school or work than any other cause and is the most common infectious
disease. Although it’s benign and self-limiting, it can lead to secondary bacterial infections.


The common cold is more prevalent in children than in adults, in adolescent boys than in girls, and in women than in men. In temperate zones, it occurs more commonly during the colder months; in the tropics, during the rainy season.

About 90% of colds stem from a viral infection of the upper respiratory passages and consequent mucous membrane inflammation; occasionally, colds result from Mycoplasma.

More than a hundred viruses can cause the common cold. Major offenders include rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, myxoviruses, adenoviruses, coxsackieviruses, and echoviruses.

Transmission occurs through airborne respiratory droplets, contact with contaminated objects, and hand-to-hand transmission. Children acquire new strains from their schoolmates and pass them on to family members. Fatigue or drafts don’t increase susceptibility.

Signs and symptoms

After a 1- to 4-day incubation period, the common cold produces pharyngitis, nasal congestion, rhinitis, headache, and burning, watery eyes; the patient may experience fever (in children), chills, myalgia, arthralgia, malaise, lethargy, and a hacking, nonproductive, or nocturnal cough.

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Jun 16, 2016 | Posted by in GENERAL & FAMILY MEDICINE | Comments Off on Common cold

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