What Is the Incubation Period for a Cold?

Author: Gabrielle Marks


The incubation period for a cold depends on the virus contracted. In general terms the incubation period ranges from 2-14 days.

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Common Cold Virus Incubation Periods

There are over 200 viruses responsible for the common cold. Here are the incubation periods for a few of the most common according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rhinovirus: 2-7 days. 

Coronaviruses: 2-10 days.

Adenoviruses: 2-14 days.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): 2-8 days 

 More Info:  Once you have contracted the cold virus, the symptoms generally begin to appear in two to three days. Specific symptoms depend on the virus that is contracted but generally begin with an irritated throat and nose. Within hours other symptoms usually will develop.  Over the course of the first few days nasal secretions thicken.  Other symptoms include cough, post nasal drip, and headache.

Cold Cures

There is no cure for the common cold.  The general medical recommendation for those suffering from cold symptoms is to get plenty of rest and fluids.  Cold medicines do not cure a cold but may help to ease discomfort. Recent medical recommendations warn against children under the age of six years taking any cold medications.

Chicken Soup Works?

Scientists have confirmed that the old-fashioned chicken soup home remedy really works to help alleviate some common cold symptoms. Researchers found that the soup acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the body's immune cells that react to inflammation.  It also help to thin the mucous, which helps it to flow through the nasal passage faster helping to relieve congestion and the time that the virus is in contact with the nasal lining.

Cold Facts: Over one billion people get colds every year in the United States alone.

Cold Facts: Children average three-eight colds per year.

Cold Facts: Colds are the number one cause of missed school for children.

Cold Facts: Young children often run a low-grade fever when they are infected by the common cold.


Works Cited

Mayo Clinic
Common cold: Lifestyle and home remedies

National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health.
Common cold

Demographic and Epi Data

Expert Opinion 

Quote:   "When someone has a cold, the nasal secretions are teeming with cold viruses. Coughing, drooling, and talking are all unlikely ways to pass a cold. But sneezing, nose-blowing, and nose-wiping are the means by which the virus spreads."

Source:  Alan Greene M.D.



Quote: "There are more than 200 different viruses that cause colds and this is one of the reasons we get so many. Top of the list are rhinoviruses, but coronaviruses, adenoviruses and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can all cause colds, too."

Source:  Dr. Trisha Macnair

(BBC Health) 

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"What Is the Incubation Period for a Cold?." Sophisticated Edge. N.p., n.d. Web. . <http://www.sophisticatededge.com/incubation-period-for-a-cold.html>.  

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to treat or diagnose any health problems or illnesses without consulting a physician. It is not meant to take the place of health care or services you may need. Please consult a physician with any questions you may have regarding your health.

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