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Common Cold

Common Cold

Definition

The common cold is an infection that can irritate your nose and throat.

Sore Throat Due to Inflammation
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Causes

The common cold is caused by a virus. There are over 200 different viruses that can cause a cold.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of a cold include:

  • Being near someone who has a cold
  • Touching your nose, mouth, or eyes with contaminated fingers
  • Decreased resistance, which can be caused by smoking , second-hand smoke, or stress
  • Allergies or asthma
  • Shorter sleep duration or poor sleep quality

Symptoms

A cold may cause:

  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, stuffed sensation in the ears
  • Watery eyes
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Aches and pains
  • Low energy
  • Fever

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is most often based on your symptoms. Generally, tests are not needed to make a diagnosis unless another condition is suspected, such as pneumonia .

Treatment

A cold usually lasts 10 days or longer. There are no cures for a cold, but treatments can ease symptoms. These include:

Prevention

The most important way to keep from getting or spreading a cold is by washing your hands. Wash your hands well and often. Other ways to keep from getting a cold:

  • Keep your hands away from your nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • Stay away from people who have a cold.
  • If you smoke, talk to your doctor about ways to quit or cut down on smoking.
  • Ask your doctor if taking certain supplements may be right for you.
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