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What causes the symptoms in a common cold?

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A cold begins when a virus attaches to the lining of your nose or throat. Your immune system -- the body's defense against germs -- sends out white blood cells to attack this invader. Unless you've had a run-in with that exact strain of the virus before, the initial attack fails and your body sends in reinforcements. Your nose and throat get inflamed and make a lot of mucus. With so much of your energy directed at fighting the cold virus, you're left feeling tired and miserable.

SOURCES: 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Common Cold." 

Palo Alto Medical Foundation: "The Common Cold." 

University of Virginia Health System: "Upper Respiratory Infection (URI or Common Cold)." 

National Jewish Medical and Research Center: "Getting Well When You Have a Cold or the Flu." 

Medline Plus: "Common Cold." 

FDA: "Colds and Flu: Time only Sure Cure." 

American Lung Association: "A Survival Guide for Preventing and Treating Influenza and the Common Cold."

UpToDate: "The common cold in adults: Diagnosis and clinical features."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Rhinovirus."

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on March 22, 2017

SOURCES: 

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "Common Cold." 

Palo Alto Medical Foundation: "The Common Cold." 

University of Virginia Health System: "Upper Respiratory Infection (URI or Common Cold)." 

National Jewish Medical and Research Center: "Getting Well When You Have a Cold or the Flu." 

Medline Plus: "Common Cold." 

FDA: "Colds and Flu: Time only Sure Cure." 

American Lung Association: "A Survival Guide for Preventing and Treating Influenza and the Common Cold."

UpToDate: "The common cold in adults: Diagnosis and clinical features."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Rhinovirus."

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on March 22, 2017

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Can being cold or wet cause you to get sick?

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