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The common cold

Fact #1

There are over 200 viruses that can cause the common cold 1

Fact #2

Adults: 2 – 4 infections per year 1
Children: 3 – 8 infections per year 1

Fact #3

Colds occur more frequently in the autumn and winter months 2

Fact #4

Rhinoviruses are the most common cause. 

Other viruses include: 1,2  

  • Coronavirus,
  • Influenzae virus,
  • Adenovirus
  • Respiratory syncytial virus

Fact #5

The average person has more than 50 colds during a lifetime 3

Fact #6

Complete recovery usually occurs within 7 days (10-14 days for children) 1

Fact #7

Coughing can persist for 3 – 8 weeks after a viral cold 4

Fact #8

Colds are spread by: 1,5

Direct contact

With an infected person.

Indirect contact

By touching railings, door handles etc.

Droplet spread

Such as sneezing, coughing etc.

Fact #9

Viruses can survive on hands for up to 2 hours 1

Fact #10

Colds are the leading cause of visits to the doctor 3

Fact #11

The spread of colds usually requires long-term contact e.g. home, schools

Fact #12

Viruses can survive on objects in ideal conditions for up to 4 days 1

Fact #13

A single virus can have 16 million offspring within the course of a day 6

Fact #14

A sneeze can travel at a speed of 156 km/hr 7

Fact #15

Colds are the leading cause of time lost from: 3

  • Work
  • School

Fact #16

A single sneeze droplet can contain 100 million viruses 8

Fact #17

Most cold viruses are not spread by saliva so kissing itself is not likely to transmit the common cold 5

Fact #18

A sneeze can spread a distance from 5 m to 200 m 9

You can catch a cold from the cold.

MYTH OR FACT?

Test your knowledge.

References: 1. Buensalido JAL, Wallace MR. Rhinovirus (RV) Infection (Common Cold). MedScape [online] 2017 Sep 11 [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/227820-overview. 2. Doyle WJ, Cohen S. Etiology of the common cold: Modulating factors. [online] 2009 [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: http://www.psy.cmu.edu/~scohen/Etiology_of_the_CommonCold.pdf. 3. Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Common Cold. [online] 2016 [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/diseases-and-conditions/pathology/common-cold. 4. Atkinson SK, Sadofsky LR, Morice AH. How does rhinovirus cause the common cold cough? BMJ Open Resp Res 2016;3:e000118. 5. Sexton DJ, McClain MT. Patient education: The common cold in adults (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate [online] 2018 Jan 25 [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/the-common-cold-in-adults-beyond-the-basics. 6. Bryer M. 13 crazy facts about the common cold. [online] [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: https://www.treehugger.com/health/13-crazy-facts-about-common-cold.html. 7. Gore G, Verma A. Sneezing – Physiolical Facts and Beliefs. J Assoc Phys India 2017;65:106. 8. Zimmerman R. Chapter 15. Patterns of Infection: a Delicate Balance. 519-551. [online] [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: http://www.microbiology.columbia.edu/Poliolab/CH15.pdf. 9. Bourouiba L, Dehandschoewercker E, Bush JWM. Violent expiratory events: on coughing and sneezing. J Fluid Mech 2014;745:537-563.

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