It’s called a “common” cold for good reason: Most adults get about two or three colds a year, and children get even more. Colds are causes by viruses and are contagious.

While colds are often confused with flu, they are not the same. Common cold symptoms are less severe than flu symptoms.

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What causes colds?

Colds can be caused by more than 100 viruses, but the most common cause is rhinoviruses. Colds can happen any time of the year but are most common in winter.

Colds are most contagious during the first few days. They spread through coughs and sneezes.

What are common cold symptoms?

Cold symptoms can last up to two weeks. Colds and flu are not the same; cold symptoms are much milder. They include:

  • Runny nose
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Tiredness

How are colds treated?

Antibiotics can’t treat a viral cold. You can use over-the-counter medications as directed to relieve symptoms such as runny nose, congestion and aches.

Colds are generally no reason for concern, but they can cause complications for people with weakened immune systems or other respiratory conditions.

Visit your nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic for diagnosis and treatment if your cold symptoms don’t improve or if you have severe symptoms.

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