Colds are viral illnesses common in children and adults. The usual symptoms include runny nose, congestion, cough, and mildly decreased appetite and energy. Some colds also cause fever, sore throat, red or watery eyes, hoarse voice, sneezing, headache or body aches. Colds are often bothersome but are not serious. Colds are not caused by being cold.
- Because there are many different cold viruses, a child can get multiple colds through the course of the year. During the winter, a child may get a cold once a month or more.
- Colds are highly contagious and spread by droplets from coughing or sneezing and by direct contact with infected mucus or saliva. Toys and other objects touched by one sick child can spread the cold to other children.
- Typical colds last 7 to 14 days. Symptoms usually worsen over the first 3 to 4 days, stay the same for a few days and then gradually improve. Coughs can linger for 2 to 3 weeks.
- Antibiotics are of no benefit in treating a cold.