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Symptoms, causes, and treatments for


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Symptoms of


Everyone’s seasonal enemy, the cold, is caused by several types of viruses. Symptoms appear within three days after exposure. Generally your symptoms will start slow and increase in severity over a few days.

Symptoms associated with a cold include:

  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nasal drainage
  • Sinus congestion or pressure
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat

Colds and the flu are distinctly different illnesses. While a cold may increase in its severity over a couple days, the flu presents its severe symptoms—including fever, body aches, and cough—in just a few hours.

Causes of


Until the day science creates a cold vaccine (here’s hoping), the best thing you can do is reduce your chance of infection.

Cold viruses like the rhinovirus can live on everyday items like doorknobs, phones, staplers, and kids’ toys for hours. It’s one of the reasons colds are so widespread: the virus is everywhere.

A virus finds its way into your mouth, nose, or eyes from either airborne body fluid droplets or touching a contaminated object. Once inside, it’ll begin to multiply. Your body will try, and fight the illness off, resulting in the previously mentioned symptoms.

Some people are at higher risk for an infection, like children under the age of six, those with weakened immune systems, or people who smoke.

Should I be worried?

Most adults can power through a cold with rest, hydration, and non-prescription meds. But you should see a doctor if you have one or more of these symptoms:

  • Fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Fever for five or more days
  • Sore throat
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath

Kids experience similar cold symptoms as adults do, but there are additional warning signs that your child should see a doctor immediately:

  • Fever persisting more than two days
  • Ear ache or pain
  • Headache or coughing
  • Newborns 12 weeks or younger with a fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Poor appetite

While many colds pass within a week, persistent symptoms for over 10 days could suggest another infection.

If you’re still suffering after 10 days, schedule a visit with a ZOOM+Care provider. They’ll run tests and find the underlying cause of your illness.

Schedule a visit online or from our iOS or Android app today. Find a neighborhood ZOOM+Care clinic near you in Portland, Seattle, Salem, or Vancouver.


Prevention Tips:

Consider these tips to help prevent the common cold:

  • Thoroughly wash and dry your hands. Drying is important -- germs love wet surfaces.
  • Fist bump (if you must). If you think your or a friend’s hands are dirty, maybe don’t high five? Research suggests a fist bump might reduce the chances of transmitting germs and viruses.
  • Sanitize your space. Use a disinfectant to clean kids’ toys and surfaces in your home that are frequently touched by the potentially infected.

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