What is the Common Cold?

December 25, 2014

The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, specifically the nose and throat. Since more than 100 different viruses can cause the common cold, signs and symptoms can be variable.
Symptoms of a common cold usually appear one to three days after exposure to the virus and may include:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itchy or sore throat
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Body aches/headaches
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Low-grade fever
  • Mild fatigue

Your first thought when coming down with cold symptoms may be to see a doctor for antibiotics. Unfortunately, since colds are caused by viruses, antibiotics will not change the course of most illnesses. The best treatment for the common cold is rest and hydration. Certain over the counter medications can help reduce the intensity of symptoms; talk to your pharmacist or see a doctor to determine which products are most appropriate for you.
It is important to see a doctor if your symptoms worsen – occasionally the common cold can progress into a bacterial infection. In these cases, antibiotics may be needed.

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