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

A man is sitting on a sofa wrapped in a blanket blowing his nose.

In the United States, on average, adults experience 2-3 colds per year. While that seems like a lot in itself, children are at higher risk and often experience even more.

Most common in the fall and winter months, the common cold can affect anyone at any point throughout the year and last quite some time. 

For most, colds are not something to worry too much about, as they can be managed at home, but many people experience lingering cold symptoms that don’t seem to quit.

While colds are longer lasting than other respiratory illnesses, knowing just how long a cold should last is essential to your overall health and well-being, especially if you’ve been infected with a cold virus. 

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

What Is the Common Cold?

The common cold is a contagious virus that affects your upper respiratory tract. 

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

A simple cold can be caused by 200 different types of viruses, but rhinoviruses are the most common culprit. These viruses can spread from infected people to others through the air and close personal contact. Sometimes, it may also be spread through stool contact or respiratory secretions.

Cold Symptoms

Cold symptoms most often affect the nose and throat, but the entire upper respiratory tract can be infected. 

Common cold symptoms include

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

It is important to note that symptoms typically take 2 to 3 days to appear following exposure and infection.

How Long Does a Cold Last?

Although the length of a cold varies by person, it typically lasts 10 to 14 days in total.

When you first show symptoms, adding 2 to 3 days to the total number of days you’ve been infected is best. 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 treatment for further evaluation and proper medical care.

Cold Diagnosis and Treatment Options

A cold is often diagnosed by the associated symptoms you experience. 

Most people who come down with a cold recover without complications on their own. 

The best way to treat your cold is with

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

Quick and Effective Cold Treatment

At Amory Urgent Care, we know how dreadful the common cold can be, especially if you are experiencing severe or prolonged symptoms.

Since a cold can last for weeks, rapid diagnosis is key to treating your symptoms quickly and effectively, allowing you to feel like yourself again sooner. 

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a cold that won’t go away or continues to worsen over time, urgent care is the answer, and we are here to help.

We are open seven days a week with no appointments necessary. Simply walk in today to get the cold treatment you need now. Don’t delay care.