First Time User? Enroll now.
Home > Patients and Visitors > Colds
Colds are the most common infection of the nose, sinuses, or throat (upper respiratory infection). Colds are caused by viruses. They're spread by coughs, sneezes, and close contact. You can catch a cold at any time of year, but they're more common in late winter and early spring. There's no cure for colds.
Lots of different viruses cause colds, but the symptoms are usually the same. They include:
You will probably feel a cold come on over the course of a couple of days. As the cold gets worse, your nose may get stuffy with thicker mucus.
A cold isn't the same as the flu (influenza). Flu symptoms are worse and come on faster. If you have the flu, you may feel very tired. You may also have a fever and shaking chills, lots of aches and pains, a headache, and a cough.
If you feel like you have a cold all the time, or if cold symptoms last more than 2 weeks, you may have allergies or sinusitis.
There are several things you can do to help prevent colds and other upper respiratory infections (URIs):
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
Current as of:
February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineJohn Pope MD - PediatricsE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Current as of: February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & John Pope MD - Pediatrics & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.