Common Cold Symptoms

Do you know the most common cold symptoms? While every cold is different, certain cold symptoms are very common and occur most of the time for the majority of people. Learn the most common cold symptoms so you can decide if you have a cold or something else.

If your symptoms seem especially severe, you could have the flu or another respiratory illness. If you think that could be the case, read about the 7 most common flu symptoms.

If you believe your symptoms are caused by the common cold, see What To Do When You Get a Cold



Cold Symptoms
Cold Symptoms. Marc Romanelli/Photolibrary/Getty Images

This could be a stuffy or runny nose, or a "full" feeling in the head. Sneezing is also common with colds. When you are congested, you typically can't breathe very well through your nose. 


Watery Eyes

Eyes could be runny, or you may just feel like you have more tears than usual. Watery eyes are common with colds. 


Itching in Nose, Throat or Eyes

Itchiness or a feeling like you need to scratch inside your nose, throat and eyes is common with a cold. These could also be signs of allergies. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider if it lasts longer than about two weeks. 


Feeling Tired

A woman sick in bed. Photo © Stockbyte/Getty

You may feel like you have not had enough sleep or you just don't have the energy to do everyday activities. Exhaustion and fatigue is common with a cold but typically it isn't so severe that you can't function. 



Learn how to check your temperature and evaluate your fever. Brand New Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Fever is rare in adults, but may be more common in children. If your temperature goes above 101 degrees, it is probably more than a cold and you should contact your doctor.

If your child has a fever with cold symptoms but is otherwise acting okay, it is probably nothing to be concerned about. If your child is under 6 months old and is running a fever or you aren't sure, check with her health care provider. 



Teenage girl coughing. Arthur Tilley/The Image Bank/Getty Images

You may have a dry or productive cough. If you are coughing up green or yellow mucous and it is painful to cough, you should contact your doctor. You should also call your doctor if you are coughing up bright red blood or bloody mucous. This could be a sign of a more serious condition.



Headache. Eric Audras/ONOKY/Getty Images

Headaches are very common when you have a cold. Congestion puts pressure on your sinuses, causing your head to hurt. Headaches caused by colds can often be relieved using over the counter medication. 

Colds are the most common illness in the world, affecting billions of people each year. Most adults get an average of two colds per year and children can get as many as 12. Fortunately, they are rarely serious or debilitating. Take care of yourself when you get a cold and you should be feeling like yourself again within about a week.

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Article Sources

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  • Common Cold, Symptoms. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases 27 Sep 2006. National Institutes of Health. 24 May 2007.