Skip to content

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Select An Article

Common Cold Symptoms: What’s Normal, What’s Not

Font Size

Your nose is constantly running. You're coughing and your throat is raw. Do you have a cold, allergies, or is it the flu?

WebMD takes a look at common cold symptoms, and other conditions that may look the same.

Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

10 Things to Do Before You Get Swine Flu

The H1N1 flu, commonly called swine flu, is expected to make many people sick this flu season. And if you're one of them, you're in for some serious at-home time, recovering and sparing other people from your germs. To make that time a little easier on yourself, consider taking these 10 steps now, before you come down with swine flu. 1. Make a backup plan. Let's say you get sick, or you need to take care of someone with swine flu. What's your plan for missing work, college, or school? Do you...

Read the 10 Things to Do Before You Get Swine Flu article > >

Beginning Cold Symptoms

Colds usually begin abruptly with a sore throat followed by these common cold symptoms:

Usually, there is no fever with the common cold. In fact, fever and more severe symptoms may indicate that you have the flu or a bacteria infection and not a cold.

For the first few days of a cold, your nose drips with watery nasal secretions. Later, these secretions may become thicker and darker.

A mild cough is a common cold symptom and may last into the second week of your cold. If you have asthma or other lung problem, a cold may make it worse. Talk to your health care provider to see if you need to modify your asthma treatment plan or need additional treatment.

If you are coughing up thick or dark mucus or you have a fever, you may have a bacterial infection. Seek care from your health care provider. Also, call your health care provider if your cough doesn't improve after a few weeks.

Common cold symptoms usually start between one and three days after you are infected by a cold virus. Typically, they last for about three to seven days. At that point, the worst is over, but you may feel congested for a week or more. During the first three days that you have cold symptoms, you are most contagious; however, colds are often contagious through the first week. This means you can pass the cold virus to those you come in contact with.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
 
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
 
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
Slideshow
cold weather
VIDEO
 
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Article
Boy holding ear
Slideshow
 

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

woman receiving vaccine shot
Article
woman with fever
Article
 
Waking up from sleep
Article
woman with sore throat
Slideshow