Common Cold

The Common Cold
Created by VSU Student Health Center
The Common Cold
The common cold is a viral infection of the
upper respiratory tract
 Usually last approximately 7 days
 Associated with a number of viruses
– Ex. Rhinoviruses, parainfluenza viruses
Season of the year, age, and prior exposure
are important factors in the type of virus
causing the infection and the type of
symptoms that may occur
Common Cold Statistics
Adults have 2-4 colds per year
 Children may have up to 10 colds per year
How does it spread?
Very contagious
 Spread from person to person
 Usually from nasal secretions and from
fingers of the affected person
 Most contagious in the first 3 days after
symptoms begin
 Viruses can last up to 5 hours on the skin
and hard surfaces
Preventing spread of
 Cough and sneeze into arm or tissue, not
into your hand
 Aerosol sprays (ex. Lysol)
 Antibacterial sanitizers (ex. Purell)
Begins with a feeling of dryness and
stuffiness in the nasopharynx (nose)
 Nasal secretions (usually clear and watery)
 Watery eyes
 Red and swollen nasal mucous membranes
 Headache
 Generalized tiredness
 Chills (in severe cases)
Symptoms cont..
Fever (in severe cases)
 Exhaustion (in severe cases)
If the pharynx and larynx (throat) becomes
Sore throat
Treatment of common cold
 Decongestants
 Pain Relievers
 Cough suppressants
 Nasal Strips
 Antibiotics are ineffective!!!
When do I see the doctor?
See your doctor if you have:
 Temperature over 101 degrees for more
than 48 hours
 A cough with pain in the chest
 Shortness of breath
 Persistent sore throat, without a runny or
stuffy nose
See the doctor if…
Your throat is very red and it hurts to
 No improvement within 7 days
 Severe headache with a fever
 Worsening pain in one or both ears
 Any chronic medical condition
– Ex. Asthma or diabetes
Cooley, B. & McNeely, M. (1996). ETR
Associates. Santa Cruz, CA.