Harvard Health Letter

Update from the cold front

There's no cure in sight, but there do seem to be ways to make the common cold less common.

Perhaps the only topic that rivals the weather forecast for idle chitchat this time of year is a rundown of cold symptoms. Was yours like a stalled pressure front that lingered for days, or did it come on as a nor'easter and knock you flat? But most of the time, we're fortunate. The typical cold is a relatively mild misery maker that goes away without special treatment after about a week.

Colds are caused by viruses that invade the upper respiratory tract (the mouth, nose, and trachea). Over 200 different viruses are capable of causing such an infection, which is perhaps one of the reasons colds are so common — and that a cure has been uncommonly difficult to find.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »