Stages of the Common Cold

The common cold affects millions of people throughout the United States each year and is much more prevalent during the winter and spring seasons.

Colds typically cause a variety of symptoms that includes a sore throat, a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing, with some cases also causing headaches and body aches.

Many people also catch the common cold multiple times a year. Adults may have one up to three times each year on average. For children, this number is variable, but could be as high as 12 cases per year for babies and toddlers.

A common cold typically lasts between seven and 10 days and can be divided into three stages with varying symptoms.

During the early stage of a cold (often the first one to three days), you may experience a sore throat as the first symptom; this can occur as early as the first day of infection. This may be quickly followed by the onset of other typical cold symptoms.

In the peak stage of a cold, your symptoms may reach their maximum intensity, resulting in effects such as a constant runny nose, a worsened cough, or consistent aches throughout your body. In some cases, this may also lead to a fever.

The late stage of a cold takes place within the last one to three days. During this phase, the severity of your symptoms should decrease as you experience less nasal congestion and aching. While coughing may also decrease for most people, it can potentially last as long as two weeks after your initial infection.

If your symptoms last longer than average, remain intense for an extended period of time, or lead to additional symptoms such as a fever, you should visit a doctor at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center. To schedule an appointment, please call (718) 206-7001.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.