Common cold

Cold

Lady with cold

Adults can get 2–4 colds per year
Image: Shutterstock.com

Anyone can get a cold at any time and they are very common:

  • children can get about 5–10 colds per year
  • adults can get 2–4 colds per year
  • children get more colds than adults because they are not immune to as many cold viruses as adults are.

Colds are caused by a virus. There are about 200 different viruses that can cause a cold and each one is slightly different. That is why you can get one cold after another. Once your immune system has fought off an infection with one particular cold virus, you will be immune to that virus. The cold is also called acute viral rhinosinusitis.

Find out about the medicines and treatments for relieving the symptoms of a cold.

The common cold is not the same as flu (influenza). Flu is caused by a completely different virus (influenza virus A or B), and has much more severe symptoms. However the cold virus can still make you feel unwell and is usually more than just a runny nose.

Common cold

Related information - common cold

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14 Mar 2016 Antibiotics aren’t likely to help coughs, colds or sore throats. Download a factsheet about treating respiratory infections here.
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01 Mar 2016 Find out which tests, treatments or procedures healthcare providers and consumers should question, as recommended by Australian medical colleges.
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15 May 2014 A growing body of evidence suggests a role for oral zinc supplements – if used soon after symptom onset – to shorten the duration of the common cold. However, questions still remain about formulation, side effects, optimal dose and applicability across different patient populations.