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Perhaps it has something to do with children and adults spending more time indoors with each other, increasing their exposure to other sick individuals and then passing along the cold virus.

"The common cold has an incubation period of one to two weeks and is transmitted by airborne droplets that are introduced into the air through sneezing or coughing," says Amy Chen, M.D., a Family Medicine physician at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. Typical symptoms include fatigue, fever, sneezing, congestion, sore throat and cough.

“Respiratory symptoms will usually last around seven to 10 days,” Dr. Chen observed, adding that the best way to prevent contracting a cold is through frequent hand washing, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing and reducing, whenever possible, exposure to infected individuals.

If you do get sick, you can treat the symptoms through prescription or over-the-counter medications including:

  • Decongestants
  • Saline nasal irrigations
  • Acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen
  • Guaifenesin

Other ways to help ease cold discomfort are a cool-mist humidifier to increase air moisture, hard candy or cough drops to help a sore throat (3 years old or older), warm salt water gargles, steam from a hot shower to open congested airways, and a steaming bowl or cup of chicken soup, like your mother would have offered.

“See your family doctor if symptoms don’t improve after three days or so, or seem to worsen. Also call your doctor if there is shortness of breath, inability to keep fluids or food down, inability to swallow, high fever, chest or stomach pains, swollen glands or earache,” Dr. Chen advised. “Like most virus infections, colds have to run their course. Getting plenty of rest, avoiding vigorous activity, and drinking lots of fluids all may help you or a loved one feel better during recovery.”

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Amy Chen, MD

​The goal of my practice is to establish a nurturing, positive environment where my patients feel comfortable to discuss their health issues and situations. I enjoy getting to know my patients and developing lifelong relationships with them. I believe in educating patients to better understand their health conditions and disease processes, while making them an active partner in their ongoing care. I emphasize preventive care as well as lifestyle changes to help improve their overall health and quality of life.