Runny nose, sore throat, and cough are a few common symptoms of a cold. These symptoms usually last from one to two weeks. Symptoms that last longer than this may be an indication of allergies rather than a cold. In rare cases, cold symptoms can lead to complications or to a more serious illness.
The common cold is a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from school and work. It is a minor infection of the nose and throat caused by one of several viruses. These viruses are highly contagious, which means they are easily spread. On average, adults get two to four colds per year, and young children get up to ten per year.
Cold symptoms usually begin two to three days after a person becomes infected with a cold virus. The first signs often include sneezing, a scratchy throat, and/or runny nose. After one to three days, the secretions from the nose may become thicker and turn either yellow or green.
Other symptoms of a cold can include:
A fever resulting from a common cold is usually slight, but can be as high as 102 degrees Fahrenheit in infants and young children. Fever is more common in those with the flu or other types of infections (see Cold and Flu Symptoms to learn more about the differences).