Common Cold

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideThe Common Cold Pictures Slideshow: 10 Prevention Tips

The Common Cold Pictures Slideshow: 10 Prevention Tips

What is the common cold, and what causes it?

The common cold is a self-limited contagious illness that can be caused by a number of different types of viruses. The common cold is medically referred to as a viral upper respiratory tract infection. Symptoms of the common cold may include cough, sore throat, watery eyes, nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing. More than 200 different types of viruses are known to cause the common cold, with rhinovirus causing approximately 10%-40% of all adult colds. Other commonly implicated viruses include coronavirus, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and parainfluenza virus. Because so many different viruses can cause the common cold and because new cold viruses constantly develop, the body never builds up resistance against all of them. For this reason, colds are a frequent and recurring problem. In fact, children in preschool and elementary school can have six to 12 colds per year while adolescents and adults typically have two to four colds per year. The common cold occurs most frequently during the winter and spring.

The common cold is the most frequently occurring illness in the world, and it is a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from school and work. It is estimated that individuals in the United States suffer 1 billion colds per year, with approximately 22 million days of school absences recorded annually. In the United States, the common cold is thought to account for approximately 75-100 million physician visits annually, with an economic impact of greater than $20 billion per year due to cold-related work loss. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 6/16/2016
References
REFERENCES:

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Common Cold and Runny Nose." Sept. 30, 2013.<http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/URI/colds.html>.

United States. National Library of Medicine. "Common Cold." Jan. 21, 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001698/>.

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