The common cold is a viral infection of your nose and throat (upper respiratory tract). It’s usually harmless, although it might not feel that way. Many types of viruses can cause a common cold.
Children younger than 6 are at greatest risk of colds, but healthy adults can also expect to have two or three colds annually.
Most people recover from a common cold in a week or 10 days. Symptoms might last longer in people who smoke. If symptoms don’t improve, see your doctor.
Symptoms of a common cold usually appear one to three days after exposure to a cold-causing virus. Signs and symptoms, which can vary from person to person, might include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Slight body aches or a mild headache
- Low-grade fever
- Generally feeling unwell (malaise)
The discharge from your nose may become thicker and yellow or green in colour as a common cold runs its course. This isn’t an indication of a bacterial infection.