Common cold

Common cold

What is a cold?

A cold is a viral infection of the upper airways – the nose, throat and windpipe.


What are the symptoms of a cold?

The symptoms of a cold include:

  • Fever

  • Sore throat

  • A clogged or runny nose. The snot usually has a clear colour in the beginning, but it later becomes thicker and more yellowish in colour.

  • Coughing

The symptoms are often worse after 3-4 days, before they slowly begin to ease off. Usually, the symptoms disappear after 7 days.


What are the causes of a cold?

There are many different viruses capable of infecting the upper airways, but it is often caused by the so-called ‘rhinovirus’. In addition, there are several subtypes of the viruses which can also infect the nose and throat. There are so many different viruses that can cause a cold, and therefore it is not possible to become immune as there is always the chance of you becoming infected with a virus unknown to your immune system. This explains why you can catch a cold several times throughout your life. However, you will become immune to any cold viruses which you have previously been infected with, but this does not prevent other viruses from infecting your airways. The contagion often occurs by hand-to-hand contact and then onwards to the mucus membrane in the mouth and nose. Usually, 2-3 days will pass from the point when you became infected, until you become sick. This is referred to as ‘the incubation time’.


What are the treatments for a cold?

A cold virus is a harmless illness that passes by itself and therefore rarely requires any treatment. There are no medications that effectively cure or prevent the common cold, but you can try to relieve the symptoms with measures such as nasal drops and expectorants. It is recommended to rest, to avoid physical and mental stress and to keep yourself warm and hydrated. For this purpose, it is encouraged to drink a lot of water and to take a warm bath. You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, against fevers and headaches if you find it necessary.

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