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definitions - Common_cold

common cold (n.)

1.a mild viral infection involving the nose and respiratory passages (but not the lungs)"will they never find a cure for the common cold?"

Common Cold (n.)

1.(MeSH)A catarrhal disorder of the upper respiratory tract, which may be viral, a mixed infection, or an allergic reaction. It is marked by acute coryza, slight rise in temperature, chilly sensations, and general indisposition. (Dorland, 27th ed)

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definition of Wikipedia

synonyms - Common_cold

Common Cold (n.) (MeSH)

Cold, Common  (MeSH), Coryza, Acute  (MeSH)

common cold (n.)

chill, cold, runny nose

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analogical dictionary


Common cold

Common Cold
Classification and external resources

A representation of the molecular surface of one variant of human rhinovirus.
ICD-10 J00.0
ICD-9 460
DiseasesDB 31088
MedlinePlus 000678
eMedicine med/2339
MeSH D003139

The common cold (also known as nasopharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis, acute coryza, or a cold) is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system which affects primarily the nose. Symptoms include a cough, sore throat, runny nose, and fever which usually resolve in seven to ten days, with some symptoms lasting up to three weeks. Well over 200 viruses are implicated in the cause of the common cold; the rhinoviruses are the most common.

Upper respiratory tract infections are loosely divided by the areas they affect, with the common cold primarily affecting the nose, the throat (pharyngitis), and the sinuses (sinusitis). Symptoms are mostly due to the body's immune response to the infection rather than to tissue destruction by the viruses themselves. The primary method of prevention is by hand washing with some evidence to support the effectiveness of wearing face masks.

No cure for the common cold exists, but the symptoms can be treated. It is the most frequent infectious disease in humans with the average adult contracting two to three colds a year and the average child contracting between six and twelve. These infections have been with humanity since antiquity.


Signs and symptoms

The typical symptoms of a cold include cough, runny nose, nasal congestion and a sore throat, sometimes accompanied by muscle ache, fatigue, headache, and loss of appetite.[1] A sore throat is present in about 40% of the cases and a cough in about 50%,[2] while muscle ache occurs in about half.[3] In adults, a fever is generally not present but it is common in infants and young children.[3] The cough is usually mild compared to that accompanying influenza.[3] While a cough and a fever indicate a higher likelihood of influenza in adults, a great deal of similarity exists between these two conditions.[4] A number of the viruses that cause the common cold may also result in asymptomatic infections.[5][6] The color of the sputum or nasal secretion may vary from clear to yellow to green and does not predict the class of agent causing the infection.[7]


A cold usually begins with fatigue, a feeling of being chilled, sneezing and a headache, followed in a couple of days by a runny nose and cough.[1] Symptoms typically peak two to three days after infection onset,[3] and usually resolve in seven to ten days but some can last for up to three weeks.[8] In children, the cough lasts for more than ten days in 35–40% of the cases and continues for more than 25 days in 10%.[9]



  Coronaviruses are a group of viruses known for causing the common cold. They have a halo, or crown-like (corona) appearance when viewed under an electron microscope.

The common cold is a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. The most commonly implicated virus is a rhinovirus (30–80%), a type of picornavirus with 99 known serotypes.[10][11] Others include: coronavirus (10–15%), influenza (5–15%),[3] human parainfluenza viruses, human respiratory syncytial virus, adenoviruses, enteroviruses, and metapneumovirus.[12] Frequently more than one virus is present.[13] In total over 200 different viral types are associated with colds.[3]


The common cold virus is typically transmitted via airborne droplets (aerosols), direct contact with infected nasal secretions, or fomites (contaminated objects).[2][14] Which of these routes is of primary importance has not been determined.[15] The viruses may survive for prolonged periods in the environment and can be picked up by people's hands and subsequently carried to their eyes or nose where infection occurs.[14] Transmission is common in daycare and at school due to the close proximity of many children with little immunity and frequently poor hygiene.[16] These infections are then brought home to other members of the family.[16] There is no evidence that recirculated air during commercial flight is a method of transmission.[14] However, people sitting in close proximity appear at greater risk.[15] Rhinovirus-caused colds are most infectious during the first three days of symptoms; they are much less infectious afterwards.[17]


The traditional folk theory is that a cold can be "caught" by prolonged exposure to cold weather such as rain or winter conditions, which is how the disease got its name.[18] The role of body cooling as a risk factor for the common cold is controversial.[19] Some of the viruses that cause the common colds are seasonal, occurring more frequently during cold or wet weather.[20] Some believe this to be due primarily to increased time spent indoors in close proximity;[21] specifically children returning to school.[16] However, it may also be related to changes in the respiratory system that result in greater susceptibility.[21] Low humidity increases viral transmission rates potentially due to dry air allowing small viral droplets to disperse farther and stay in the air longer.[22]


Herd immunity, generated from previous exposure to cold viruses, plays an important role in limiting viral spread, as seen with younger populations that have greater rates of respiratory infections.[23] Poor immune function is also a risk factor for disease.[23][24] Insufficient sleep and malnutrition have been associated with a greater risk of developing infection following rhinovirus exposure; this is believed to be due to their effects on immune function.[25][26]


  The common cold is a disease of the upper respiratory tract.

The symptoms of the common cold are believed to be primarily related to the immune response to the virus.[27] The mechanism of this immune response is virus specific. For example, the rhinovirus is typically acquired by direct contact; it binds to human ICAM-1 receptors through unknown mechanisms to trigger the release of inflammatory mediators.[27] These inflammatory mediators then produce the symptoms.[27] It does not generally cause damage to the nasal epithelium.[3] The respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) on the other hand is contacted by both direct contact and air born droplets. It then replicates in the nose and throat before frequently spreading to the lower respiratory tract.[28] RSV does cause epithelium damage.[28] Human parainfluenza virus typically results in inflammation of the nose, throat, and bronchi.[29] In young children when it affects the trachea it may produce the symptoms of croup due to the small size of their airway.[29]


The distinction between different viral upper respiratory tract infections is loosely based on the location of symptoms with the common cold affecting primarily the nose, pharyngitis the throat, and bronchitis the lungs.[2] There however can be significant overlap and multiple areas can be affected.[2] The common cold is frequently defined as nasal inflammation with varying amount of throat inflammation.[30] Self diagnosis is frequent.[3] Isolation of the actual viral agent involved is rarely performed,[30] and it is generally not possible to identify the virus type through symptoms.[3]


Physical measure to prevent the spread of cold viruses has been deemed the only potentially effective measure for prevention.[31] These measures include primarily hand washing and face masks; in the health care environment, gowns and disposable gloves are also used.[31] Efforts such as quarantine are not possible as the disease is so widespread and symptoms are non-specific. Vaccination has proved difficult as there are so many viruses involved and they change rapidly.[31] Creation of a broadly effective vaccine is thus highly improbable.[32]

Regular hand washing appears to be effective at reducing the transmission of cold viruses especially among children.[33] Whether the addition of antivirals or antibacterials to normal hand washing provides greater benefit is unknown.[33] Wearing face masks when around people who are infected may be beneficial; however, there is insufficient evidence for maintaining a greater social distance.[33] Zinc supplementation may be effective at decreasing the rate of colds.[34] Routine vitamin C supplementation does not reduce the risk or severity of the common cold, though it may reduce its duration.[35]


  Poster encouraging citizens to "Consult your Physician" for treatment of the common cold

There are currently no medications or herbal remedies which have been conclusively demonstrated to shorten the duration of infection.[36] Treatment thus comprises symptomatic relief.[37] Getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids to maintain hydration, and gargling with warm salt water, are reasonable conservative measures.[12] Much of the benefit from treatment is however attributed to the placebo effect.[38]


Treatments that help alleviate symptoms include simple analgesics and antipyretics such as ibuprofen[39] and acetaminophen/paracetamol.[40] Evidence does not show that cough medicines are any more effective than simple analgesics[41] and they are not recommended for use in children due to a lack of evidence supporting effectiveness and the potential for harm.[42][43] In 2009, Canada restricted the use of over-the-counter cough and cold medication in children six years and under due to concerns regarding risks and unproven benefits.[42] The misuse of dextromethorphan (an over-the-counter cough medicine) has led to its ban in a number of countries.[44]

In adults the symptoms of a runny nose can be reduced by first generation antihistamines; however, they are associated with adverse effects such as drowsiness.[37] Other decongestants such as pseudoephedrine are also effective in this population.[45] Ipratropium nasal spray may reduce the symptoms of a runny nose but there is little effect on stuffiness.[46] Second-generation antihistamines however do not appear to be effective.[47]

Due to lack of studies, it is not known whether increased fluid intake improves symptoms or shortens respiratory illness[48] and a similar lack of data exists for the use of heated humidified air.[49] One study has found chest vapor rub to be effective at providing some symptomatic relief of nocturnal cough, congestion, and sleep difficulty.[50]

Antibiotics and antivirals

Antibiotics have no effect against viral infections and thus have no effect against the viruses that cause the common cold.[51] Due to their side effects they cause overall harm; however, they are still frequently prescribed.[51][52] Some of the reasons that antibiotics are so commonly prescribed include: people's expectations for them, physicians' desire to do something, and the difficulty in excluding complications that may be amenable to antibiotics.[53] There are no effective antiviral drugs for the common cold even though some preliminary research has shown benefit.[37][54]

Alternative treatments

While there are many alternative treatments used for the common cold, there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the use of most.[37] As of 2010 there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against either honey or nasal irrigation.[55][56] Studies suggested that Zinc, if taken within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, reduces the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy people.[34] Due to wide differences between the studies, further research may be needed to determine how and when zinc may be effective.[57] Vitamin C's effect on the common cold while extensively researched is disappointing, except in limited circumstances, specifically, individuals exercising vigorously in cold environments.[35][58] Evidence about the usefulness of echinacea is inconsistent.[59][60] Different types of echinacea supplements may vary in their effectiveness.[59] It is unknown if garlic is effective.[61]


The common cold is generally mild and self-limiting with most symptoms generally improving in a week.[2] Severe complications, if they occur, are usually in the very old, the very young or those who are immunosuppressed.[62] Secondary bacterial infections may occur resulting in sinusitis, pharyngitis, or an ear infection.[63] It is estimated that sinusitis occurs in 8% and an ear infection in 30% of cases.[64]


The common cold is the most common human disease[62] and all peoples globally are affected.[16] Adults typically have two to five infections annually[2][3] and children may have six to ten colds a year (and up to twelve colds a year for school children).[37] Rates of symptomatic infections increase in the elderly due to a worsening immune system.[23]


While the cause of the common cold has only been identified since the 1950s the disease has been with humanity since antiquity.[65] Its symptoms and treatment are described in the Egyptian Ebers papyrus, the oldest existing medical text, written before the 16th century BCE.[66] The name "common cold" came into use in the 16th century, due to the similarity between its symptoms and those of exposure to cold weather.[67]

In the United Kingdom, the Common Cold Unit was set up by the Medical Research Council in 1946 and it was here that the rhinovirus was discovered in 1956.[68] In the 1970s, the CCU demonstrated that treatment with interferon during the incubation phase of rhinovirus infection protects somewhat against the disease,[69] but no practical treatment could be developed. The unit was closed in 1989, two years after it completed research of zinc gluconate lozenges in the prophylaxis and treatment of rhinovirus colds, the only successful treatment in the history of the unit.[70]

Economic impact

  A British poster from World War II describing the cost of the common cold[71]

The economic impact of the common cold is not well understood in much of the world.[64] In the United States, the common cold leads to 75–100 million physician visits annually at a conservative cost estimate of $7.7 billion per year. Americans spend $2.9 billion on over-the-counter drugs and another $400 million on prescription medicines for symptomatic relief.[72] More than one-third of people who saw a doctor received an antibiotic prescription, which has implications for antibiotic resistance.[72] An estimated 22–189 million school days are missed annually due to a cold. As a result, parents missed 126 million workdays to stay home to care for their children. When added to the 150 million workdays missed by employees suffering from a cold, the total economic impact of cold-related work loss exceeds $20 billion per year.[12][72] This accounts for 40% of time lost from work in the United States.[73]


A number of antivirals have been tested for effectiveness in the common cold; however as of 2009 none have been both found effective and licensed for use.[54] There are ongoing trials of the anti-viral drug pleconaril which shows promise against picornaviruses as well as trials of BTA-798.[74] The oral form of pleconaril had safety issues and an aerosol form is being studied.[74]

Researchers from University of Maryland, College Park and University of Wisconsin–Madison have mapped the genome for all known virus strains that cause the common cold.[75]


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  41. ^ Smith SM, Schroeder K, Fahey T (2008). "Over-the-counter (OTC) medications for acute cough in children and adults in ambulatory settings". Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1). DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD001831.pub3. PMID 18253996. CD001831. 
  42. ^ a b Shefrin AE, Goldman RD (November 2009). "Use of over-the-counter cough and cold medications in children". Can Fam Physician 55 (11): 1081–3. PMC 2776795. PMID 19910592. http://www.cfp.ca/content/55/11/1081.full.pdf. 
  43. ^ Vassilev, ZP; Kabadi S, Villa R (2010 Mar). "Safety and efficacy of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for use in children". Expert opinion on drug safety 9 (2): 233–42. DOI:10.1517/14740330903496410. PMID 20001764. 
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  46. ^ Albalawi, ZH; Othman SS, Alfaleh K (2011 July 6). Albalawi, Zaina H. ed. "Intranasal ipratropium bromide for the common cold". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (7). DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD008231.pub2. PMID 21735425. CD008231. 
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Common Stonecrop Perennial Groundcover Flowering Cold Drought & Salt Tolerant (3.4 AUD)

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doTERRA Essential Oil Blends in 5 mL Roll Bottle (5.5 USD)

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Ah-Choo! : The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold by Jennifer Ackerman (2010,... (3.99 USD)

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GIANT microbes Plush Common Cold Microbes (12.32 USD)

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Giant Microbes keychain plush *common cold* stuffed toy (7.99 USD)

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Excellent Condition Linus Pauling, Vitamin C The Common Cold And The Flu (9.95 USD)

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Cold Hard Truth On Men, Women, and Money: 50 Common Money Mistakes and How to Fi (7.93 USD)

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The Official Patient's Sourcebook on the Common Cold (24.16 USD)

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Amber Technology, Pets Cough Cold Formula 4oz helps fight the common cold (21.63 USD)

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Broncolin Syrup Dietary Supplement for Common Cold Relief 11.4oz (7.29 USD)

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4x Captain Cold - Leonard Snart - Common NM DC Dice Masters (3.61 USD)

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Cold Feet - REDU-EN065 - Common - 1st Edition x3 (1.33 USD)

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Common Cold New Plush Giant Microbes Disease Camp Science Fair Stuffed Toy Germ (7.96 USD)

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NEW GIANTmicrobes Plush Common Cold Microbes (11.14 USD)

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Moose Trash Pack Trashies Series 7 - ORANGE KITTY COLD #1119 - Common (1.95 USD)

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Winning the Cold War: Preventing and Curing the Common Cold and Flu (Natural Re (3.89 USD)

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GIANT MICROBES LIQUID SOAP DISPENSER-Common Cold Rhinovirus New in box Classroom (13.95 USD)

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