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What is the common cold?

The common cold is a virus that infects the upper respiratory tract. There are over 100 viruses that can cause the common cold. These viruses are very contagious and exist throughout all four seasons.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Signs and symptoms are commonly seen 2 to 14 days after exposure and include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever with some colds

How is it spread?

The common cold can be spread by:

  • By breathing in contaminated air, from an infected person who is sneezing, coughing, or speaking.
  • Can also be spread by touching contaminated hands, surfaces, or objects (e.g., toys).

How long is it contagious?

Usually a few days before signs and symptoms appear and while runny secretions are present.