Common Cold


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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