Common Cold Symptoms
The clinical symptoms of the common cold generally occur within 24-72 hours of infection, and typically begin with runny nose and a sore or "scratchy" throat. Sore throat symptoms usually subside by the 2nd or 3rd day of infection, after which nasal symptoms typically become the most bothersome (Turner 2009; Turner 2011; Hayden 2011; Nussenbaum 2010). Three out of every 10 people with the common cold may develop an unproductive cough, often beginning after the onset of nasal symptoms, and persisting as the cold resolves (Turner 2009; Turner 2011; Hayden 2011; Nussenbaum 2010). As a whole, these symptoms may last anywhere from 2 to 14 days, but most people recover within 7 to 10 days. Nasal symptoms lasting longer than 2 weeks may be due to seasonal allergies rather than the common cold (NIAID 2011b).
Occasionally, common cold infections are associated with other complications such as ear and/or sinus infection. The common cold has also been known to exacerbate certain diseases of the upper respiratory tract such as asthma, bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, and COPD. Patients who experience high fever, intense sinus pain, severely swollen glands, and/or cough that produces mucus (i.e., productive cough) may have a more serious illness, and should notify their health care provider immediately (NIAID 2011b; Turner 2011; Roxas 2007d; Niespodziana 2012).