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How Long Does a Cold Last?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Family blowing noses in napkins

Story at-a-glance -

  • Most cases of colds in children usually go away in about five to seven days, but it may take up to two weeks before all the symptoms completely resolve
  • In adults, most symptoms of the cold usually last for a week to 10 days, although coughing may persist for a little longer. The duration of a cold in adults may also vary depending on how healthy the person is prior to the infection
  • A person with a cold starts to become contagious on the last day of the incubation period, before any symptoms even appear. They continue to be contagious until all of the symptoms are gone

A common cold is a viral infection that causes runny or stuffy nose, as well as sore throat, congestion, mild body ache, headache, sneezing, low-grade fever and a general feeling of being unwell. Although it can be very uncomfortable, it’s usually harmless in healthy individuals.


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