Although more than 100 viruses can cause a common cold, the rhinovirus is the most common culprit, and it's highly contagious.
A cold virus enters your body through your mouth, eyes or nose. The virus can spread through droplets in the air when someone who is sick coughs, sneezes or talks. But it also spreads by hand-to-hand contact with someone who has a cold or by sharing contaminated objects, such as utensils, towels, toys or telephones. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after such contact or exposure, you're likely to catch a cold.
April 17, 2013
- Fashner J, et al. Treatment of the common cold in adults and children. American Family Physician. 2012;86:153.
- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.f
- Pappas DE, et al. The common cold in children: Clinical features and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.
- Get set for winter illness season. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm092805.htm. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.
- Stopping the spread of germs at home, work and school. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.
- Pappas DE, et al. The common cold in children: Treatment and prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.
- Dykewicz MS, et al. Rhinitis and sinusitis. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 2010;125:S103.
- Public health advisory: FDA recommends that over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold products not be used for infants and children under 2 years of age. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/postmarketdrugsafetyinformationforpatientsandproviders/drugsafetyinformationforheathcareprofessionals/publichealthadvisories/ucm051137.htm. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.
- What to do in a medical emergency: Fever. American College of Emergency Physicians. http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/EmergencyManual/WhatToDoInMedicalEmergency/Default.aspx?id=242&terms=fever. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.
- Sexton DJ, et al. The common cold in adults: Treatment and prevention. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.
- Linde K, et al. Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000530.pub2/abstract. Accessed Jan. 10, 2013.
- Singh D, et al. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub3/abstract. Accessed Jan. 10, 2013.
- The flu, the common cold and complementary health practices. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/flu/ataglance.htm. Accessed Jan. 9, 2013.
- When to call the pediatrician: Fever. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/fever/pages/When-to-Call-the-Pediatrician.aspx. Accessed Jan. 11, 2013.
- Steckelberg JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 11, 2013.
- Sullivan JE, et al. Clinical report: Fever and antipyretic use in children. Pediatrics. 2011;127:580.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.