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The common cold is an infectious disease caused by a type of virus known as a rhinovirus. Common cold symptoms can begin anywhere from a few hours to a few days after a person is exposed to the virus. Early symptoms include fatigue and a headache. An individual may also experience nose and throat problems, along with a mild cough and chills. Symptoms usually dissipate within a week for most individuals, but they can sometimes last much longer.
An individual can come in contact with the common cold virus several ways, such as touching contaminated people or objects. This virus can also spread through the air in minuscule nasal secretions; this usually happens when an infected person sneezes. On average, it takes about two days for common cold symptoms to develop. A general feeling of tiredness and headaches may occur first.
An increase in nasal secretions is another common symptom. This may take the form of nasal discharge or congestion. These common cold symptoms are often referred to as a runny nose or a stuffy nose, respectively. Sneezing and a burning sensation is the back of the nose may also occur.
Other common cold symptoms include problems in the throat. Many individuals who have a cold will complain of a sore throat. The throat may also feel scratchy.
A cough is another common cold symptoms. This is often mild, and it will usually last for a few days, but it could last for weeks. On the other hand, some individuals may not develop a cough at all.
Coughing up phlegm or mucous can also occur during a cold. When this happens, it is usually a good indication that the infection has spread to the respiratory system. If the mucus is very dark or has dark spots in it, medical attention is recommended.
Chills and muscle aches are two more common cold symptoms. A person with a cold will often feel cold, even in a warm environment. This can lead to shivering. Minor aches and pains are also common, and these can be felt in the muscles all over the body.
A fever may also be a symptom of the common cold. If this occurs, however, it is usually a low fever. Higher fevers will usually indicate an influenza infection.
Most of the time, common cold symptoms will be the worst two or three days after they start. Typically, almost all of the cold symptoms will be gone within a week. Some individuals, though, may have some of these symptoms for much longer. Children, for example, may suffer from a minor cold for weeks.