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Cold – Symptoms, causes and other related risk factors

When we wake up in the morning and we are coughing, sneezing or we have achy feverish, then in many cases we do not know if this is a sign of cold or flu. But it is very important to know the differences between cold and flu which means that this is not the same condition. Cold is a milder respiratory disease compared with the flu. In a period of few days you will notice that the symptoms of flu will be better which not the same case with flu is. When you have flu, then the symptoms of this condition will make you feel bad in a period of few days or even you can have flu symptoms for longer (in a period of few weeks). People who have flu also have increased chances of getting serious disease such as pneumonia which in many cases leads to hospitalization. [1] You should constantly wash your hands because in this way you are reducing the chances of getting cold. Also if you have noticed that someone has cold, then you should not be in contact with that person because you can get cold.

What are the symptoms of cold

In the beginning of the cold you usually have a sore throat. This condition gets better after one day or two days. But also there are other symptoms of the cold which come after the fourth and fifth days such as runny nose, nasal symptoms, cough and congestion. When adults are suffering from cold, then they usually do not have fever. But also there are cases where adults are having a slight fever. On the opposite side are children which mean that they have increased chances of getting this infection with high fever [2]. In the first few days of colds, we can have watery nose secretions. But after the days are going we can notice that these secretions are becoming darker and thicker. It is normal and usual case to have dark mucus which is natural. If you have dark mucus, then this does not mean that you have some bacterial infection such as sinus infection. There are many different types of viruses which can lead to this infection. When you have this infection, then you can have a fever but in some cases and usually this fever is mild. Occasionally, you can have headaches when you have cold. The general aches and pain of the cold are slight. When you have this infection, you can also have weakness and fatigue which is in some cases and not is usual. You will never feel extreme exhaustion if you have cold. The stuffy nose is a very common symptom of this infection. Also it is usual to sneeze if you have cold. In the beginning period of cold you usually feel a sore throat which is a common symptom. Also you can have cough and chest discomfort which can be from mild to moderate.


How long do cold symptoms last? In the most cases when we have cold, then the symptoms of this condition last in a period of one week. When we have cold which is in the first 3 days, then we have contagious condition. This is a reason why we should not be in contact with other people. We can pass the infection to other people. [3] This is also a reason why you should stay at home and to have a rest as much as we need. But if you have noticed that the symptoms of cold are not improved in a period of one week, then you must talk with your doctor. This is a sign that you may have a bacterial infection. [4] Your doctor will give you the right antibiotics which mean that you will improve your condition. But also there are some cases when people think that they have a cold while in fact they have a sinus infection or hay fever (which is a symptom for allergic rhinitis). But if you have noticed that the symptoms are beginning very quickly and you have noticed that they are improved in a period of one week, then you should not be worried about this condition because this is a sign of cold not on some kind of allergy. [5] You should not risk with your health. If you have noticed that your symptoms are not getting better in a period of one week, then you must talk with your doctor because he or she will tell you if you have cold or it is a sign for sinusitis or allergy. When you have this condition, then you have a chance to get a middle ear infection or sinus congestion.

Above are some of the symptoms and causes of Cold.


[1] Shrestha S, Foxman B, Berus J, et al. The role of influenza in the epidemiology of pneumonia. Scientific Reports. 2015.

[2] Willis GA, Preen DB, Richmond PC, et al. The impact of influenza infection on young children, their family and the health care system. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses. 2019;13(1):18–27. doi:10.1111/irv.12604

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Key facts about influenza (flu). Retrieved from

[4] University of Vienna. Flu and bacteria: Better prognosis for this potentially fatal combination. Science Daily. 2013. Retrieved from

[5] Edwards MR, Strong K, Cameron A, et al. Viral infections in allergy and immunology: How allergic inflammation influences viral infections and illness. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2017;140(4):909-20.

Hanan Marshal
Hanan Marshal
Hanan, a medical student (MBBS) having passion for writing and is very much interested in holistic living along with nature. He is very much interested in doing community service and watches anime and play PS4 during his free time. You can reach him through [email protected]


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