The common cold is one of the most frequent infectious diseases of the respiratory system. It is primarily caused by rhinoviruses and coronaviruses, and also known under the names: nasopharyngitis, acute viral rhinopharyngitis, acute coryza or a cold. This disease is typically harmless but the patients may feel extremely unwell for a couple of days. Preschool children are usually at the highest risk of catching frequent colds, but this disease almost equally affects all age groups and people of various health statuses. Even the healthy adults are very likely to have a couple of colds each year.
Symptoms of common cold
More than 100 different viruses can cause a common cold, and that is why the symptoms usually differ in different patients. Typically, the first symptoms take place about one to three days after the exposure to viruses and most commonly include runny or stuffy nose, problems with breathing, itchy and sore throat, cough, nasal congestion, body aches, pink or watery eyes, sneezing, low fever, mild fatigue, headaches, shivering and loss of appetite. The symptoms are similar to those of influenza, but slightly milder in manifestations.
In most of the cases, the symptoms resolve spontaneously in less than 10 days. In children and immuno-compromised patients, the cough may last for more than 10 days. Children are also more likely to have severe symptoms.
Is common cold contagious?
Since it is caused by a virus, common cold is a contagious disease. Common cold is usually caused by the rhinovirus, which is a highly contagious species. The virus typically enters the subject’s body through mouth and nose or spreads through droplets in the air when a person talks or sneezes. This virus can also be transferred through hand-to-hand contact or by using shared objects: toys, telephones, keys, door handles, etc.
Touching the eyes, nose or mouth with contaminated fingers is one of the easiest ways of spreading the virus. This droplet-borne infection is also commonly spread in enclosed areas where people spend a lot of time together, such as public nurseries, for example. People who are getting less than seven hours of quality night sleep are more likely to develop an infection, while those who smoke typically extend their sickness for about three days.
These infections are more common in the wintertime, and doctors believe this is the case not because of the body cooling, but because people tend to spend more time indoors during the winter days, which increases their proximity to other people. Moreover, low humidity can increase viral transmission rates since dry air allows small viral droplets to disperse farther and stay in the air longer.