How Long Does a Cold Last?

A closeup of a woman sitting on a sofa wrapped in a blanket and blowing her nose into a tissue.

How Long Does a Cold Last? Here’s What You Need to Know

Each year, adults experience two to three colds in the United States. While that seems like a lot, children are at higher risk of developing a cold and often experience upwards of five a year.

Common in the colder weather of the fall and winter months, the common cold can affect anyone at any time. 

For most, colds are more of a hindrance than anything. Typically, they’re mild in nature and not something to worry too much about. For others, though, they can range from moderate to severe and include lingering symptoms that worsen over time.

In general, colds last longer than other respiratory illnesses. Therefore, knowing how long a cold should last is vital to your overall well-being.

Let’s discuss the common cold in more detail, including symptoms, treatment options, and just how long a cold should last.

What Is the Common Cold?

The common cold, as its name suggests, is a common virus that affects your upper respiratory tract. 

It is considered contagious from the moment you become infected until your symptoms are fully resolved.

It is important to note that a cold can be caused by any of 200 different types of viruses, but rhinoviruses are the most common cause. 

Cold viruses can spread from person to person through the air and close personal contact. In rarer instances, it may spread through direct contact with stool or respiratory secretions.

Cold Symptoms

Cold symptoms most commonly affect the nose and throat, but the entire upper respiratory tract can be infected with the cold virus.

Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Fever

Symptoms typically take 2 to 3 days to appear following exposure and infection.

How Long Does a Cold Last?

The length of a cold varies from person to person but typically lasts about 10 to 14 days in total.

In total, a cold should not last longer than 2 weeks.

If your cold is long-lasting or symptoms worsen with time, you should seek urgent care treatment in Oxford for further evaluation and proper medical care for all associated symptoms, especially if you are immunocompromised.

Cold Diagnosis and Treatment

A cold is most commonly diagnosed by the symptoms you are experiencing. 

It is important to know that most people who contract a cold can recover without complications at home.

The best way to mitigate symptoms is to treat them as they arise with 

  • Adequate hydration, including clear liquids like water, juice, or broth
  • Plenty of rest
  • OTC anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and decongestants
  • Throat lozenges or sprays
  • OTC saline nasal drops or spray
  • A cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier

There is no quick fix to end your cold entirely, but treating the symptoms helps reduce discomfort sooner. 

Effective Cold Treatment in Oxford

At Oxford Urgent Care, we know how awful common cold symptoms can be, especially if you are immunocompromised or experiencing severe symptoms that last for more than a handful of days.

Because a cold is one of the more common lingering viruses, it can last weeks. That’s why rapid diagnosis is key to treating your symptoms quickly.

If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of a cold that seems to worsen as the days pass by, urgent care is the answer, and we are here to help with the prompt diagnosis and treatment you need today.

We are open seven days a week with no appointments necessary. So walk in now to get treatment for your cold sooner.