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Home > Illness & Symptoms > Nose > Common Cold & Flu > Cause for consumer description

Common Cold & Flu- Cause(s)

The common cold occurs when a virus infects the upper respiratory tract, which includes your nose and throat. There are more than 200 viruses that can cause the common cold. But the most common virus is the Rhinovirus, which results in 50% to 80% of colds. Once inside the cells of your upper respiratory tract, these viruses will reproduce. Your body's immune system will react to fight off the virus and this ultimately leads to cold symptoms. It generally takes about 2 weeks for the immune system to completely eliminate the virus.

The common cold is contagious. It can be spread from one person to another three different ways: coming into direct physical contact with an infected person (i.e. hand shake), touching a surface that has been infected with the virus (i.e. door knobs, telephone), and breathing in tiny droplets from the air released by an infected person who has just coughed or sneezed.  

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