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A cold usually develops gradually over one or two days and is most contagious during the early stages, when a runny nose and/or a sore throat are the main symptoms. 1 Most people feel better after a few days but some colds can last up to two weeks. 1


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  • Sneezing 1
  • Runny nose (mucus is initially clear and thin but later may change to a thick yellow or greenish discharge) 1,2
  • Blocked or stuffy nose 1
  • Loss of smell 1
  • Sore throat 1
  • Loss of taste 1
  • Croaky voice (hoarseness) 2
  • Dry cough that may disturb sleep (no mucus coughed up) 3
  • Wet cough (mucus is clear) 3
  • Generally feeling unwell (malaise) 4
  • Mild headache 1,4
  • Low-grade fever 1,4
  • Slight body aches 4
  • Mild fatigue 1,2
Mild ColdSevere Cold

Ever wondered why we get aches and pains when we’re sick?

Watch the video to the right to find out.

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How do I know that I have a cold and not the flu?

References: 1. NHS Choices. Cold or flu? [online] 2017 Sep 1 [cited 2018 Mar 19. Available from: URL: 2. Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. Common Cold. [online] 2016 [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: 3. BMJ Best Practice. Patient information from the BMJ Group. Common cold. [online] [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL: 4. Mayo Clinic. Common cold. [online] [cited 2018 Mar 19]. Available from: URL:

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