There are over 200 cold viruses, but the most common is the rhinovirus. A cold can be transmitted through droplets in the air or on surfaces when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. A person becomes infected when these droplets enter the nose, mouth, or eyes.
Colds can also be transmitted through hand-to-hand contact or by sharing contaminated objects, such as towels, utensils, toys, phones, or drinking after someone. If a person touches their mouth, nose, or eyes after touching a contaminated hand or object, that person can become infected.
A physical exam should be enough to diagnose a common cold. During the exam, a doctor will check for the following symptoms:
- Stuffy nose
- Swelling in the nostrils
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Red and irritated throat
- Clear lungs
Your doctor may want to do further testing if the flu or another condition is suspected. A cotton swab is used on the inside of the nose to test for the flu or certain other conditions. Sometimes your doctor may also recommend chest x-rays to rule out bronchitis or pneumonia.
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