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Viral infection of the upper and sometimes the lower respiratory tract. Symptoms, which are relatively mild, include sneezing, fatigue, sore throat, and stuffy or runny nose (but not fever); they usually last only a few days. About 200 different strains of virus can produce colds; they are spread by direct or indirect contact. The cold is the most common of all illnesses; the average person gets several every year. Incidence peaks in the fall. Treatment involves rest, adequate fluid intake, and over-the-counter remedies for the symptoms. Antibiotics do not combat the virus but may be given if secondary infections develop.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on cold, common, visit Britannica.com.
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