Understanding the Common Cold

The common cold is usually mild and improves without treatment, but it causes 26 million days of missed school and 23 million days of absence from work every year in the U.S. Get the facts on the common cold ›

How to Survive the Sniffles

Colds are caused by viruses, easily passed by person-to-person contact.

"Someone with a cold rubs his or her nose then touches your hand," says Jack M. Gwaltney Jr., M.D., an epidemiologist. "As soon as you touch your nose or wipe your eyes, you're infected."

Protect Yourself

Because cold viruses enter the body through the nose, mouth and eyes, you can protect your child most effectively by keeping his or her hands away from those areas. These preventive measures also help:

Find out more ways to protect yourself from a cold

Test Your Common Cold Knowledge

Is it true that one-third of Americans catch a cold in the fall?

Is It an Allergy or a Cold?

Seasonal allergies and colds have similar symptoms but some important differences. The following information from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) can help you determine if you're suffering from allergies or a cold.

Hay Fever

Symptoms are more common in the spring, summer and early fall:

Runny or stuffy nose, mucus is generally clear and watery

Find out more differences between a cold and allergies

Take a Personalized Health Test

Did You Know?

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More than 200 viruses can cause the common cold. There are more than 1 billion colds in the United States each year.