Alternate Names : Upper Respiratory Infection, URI, Common COLD, Viral Pharyngitis, Viral URI
A cold is a viral infection that affects the upper airway
including the nose,
pharynx, throat, airways, and lungs.
What is going on in the body?
The common cold is the most common reason that people miss work or school.
There are at least 200 different viruses that cause colds. These include
rhinoviruses and coronaviruses, and they are different from the viruses that cause
the flu. Cold viruses are
very contagious. They are airborne and are transmitted when one breathes,
sneezes. Cold viruses can be spread when a person with a cold sneezes into his or her hand or blows his or her nose and then touches an object. Cold viruses can live for up to 3 hours on a surface such as
a doorknob or toy.
What are the causes and risks of the infection?
Colds are caused by rhinoviruses and coronaviruses. Children generally have 6 to 8 colds a year, but they
may get as many as 12 if they live in a family with school-age children. Adults
usually have 2 to 4 colds a year, and individuals over 60 years of age have about
1 cold a year. Adults have fewer colds than children because they have
developed immunity to the particular viruses that cause colds.
Under the following conditions, people are more susceptible to getting a cold:
during the winter months, when people are indoors with others and the
humidity is lower. The cold season begins slowly in late August and goes until
March or April.
during periods of stress
in women, during certain points in the
if they have allergies affecting
the nose or throat