What is the common cold?


I had an idea that it was just an extremely common virus that we can’t cure. However, upon looking it up some sources say that there are over 200+ viruses that cause the common cold. Does that mean the common cold is just some blanket term we have for viruses that cause these symptoms?

In: 30

“The common cold” is a viral respiratory disease of the upper respiratory tract (nose, throat, sinuses, etc.) It is generally quite mild, caused by one of about 200 different viruses, and usually goes away on its own or with minor over-the-counter drugs.

Yes, it’s a common blanket term for all of the viruses that cause similar upper respiratory symptoms which is why there are no cures for “colds”. Since they aren’t typically very dangerous, it’s not really a priority for getting rid of them. (Though once in a while you get a novel corona virus like COVID 19…)

The common cold is a syndrome (a constellation of symptoms) which can be caused by several different viruses. It’s difficult to count the number of viruses because of how many strains, variants and subvariants exist if each. But it’s thought that the most colds are caused by rhinoviruses, while many of the others are caused by non-SARSCoV2 coronaviruses.

It can also be caused by respiratory syncitial virus, adenovirus, coxsackievirus, parainfluenza virus, influenza and of course SARSCoV2 (covid-19), but there are several other potential viruses than can cause similar symptoms. Many of these virus also can cause more several disease, whereby most people wouldn’t call it a cold any more. These are more appropriately called flu like illnesses, which unfortunately some get mixed up with the stomach flu, which usually has nothing to do with influenza at all.

Yes, we call different viruses that cause the same symptoms a cold. Unless we test the person, we do not know what virus they carry so it’s not really necessary to come up with different names.

Some colds could be caused by bacteria. Generally, if you have a higher temperature, then it may be a bacterial infection.

Also if you have had the virus or bacteria before then, generally, you will not catch it again. So each time you get a cold it’s probably a different virus. Cold viruses can mutate but it’s not as fast as the flu

Bacteria do not cause colds and having a higher temperature does not mean that it’s caused by a bacteria.