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Common cold

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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The common cold is a very common infection caused by rhinoviruses, and also by other respiratory viruses and some enteric viruses.

Influenza, Parainfluenza, picorna, respiratory syncytial viruses and adenoviruses have all been implicated.

With respect to treatments for cough and common cold in children a review has stated (1):

  • upper respiratory tract infections are common, self-limiting illnesses that resolve without intervention in up to 10 days
  • treatments for the common cold do not shorten the length of illness but may relieve a child’s discomfort by alleviating the effects of the most bothersome symptoms

Colds are common because some of the causative viruses do not produce lasting immunity after infection and some viruses have numerous serotypes (2)

  • cold viruses that do not produce lasting immunity include respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), parainfluenza viruses (PIVs), and human coronaviruses (HCoVs)
  • cold viruses that have numerous serotypes but produce lasting serotype-specific immunity after infection include rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, influenza viruses, and enteroviruses


  • Gill P J, Onakpoya I J, Buchanan F, Birnie K A, Van den Bruel A. Treatments for cough and common cold in childrenBMJ 2024; 384 :e075306
  • Pappas DE. The Common Cold. Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 2018:199–202.e1.

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