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The common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory passages, especially the nose and throat. It is caused by any of several types of viruses. It is quite different from influenza (the flu), which is caused by more intense viruses.


If you have a cold, you must have breathed in the virus, which is carried in the air after being coughed or sneezed out by another person with a cold.


There is no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics are of no use for viral infections. Fortunately, the body’s immune system eventually is able to fight the virus by making antibodies. This takes several days.


A cold is contagious 1-2 days before symptoms start and for 2 weeks after you’re exposed to the virus.


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