Out in the Cold: Why the Common Cold Remains Uncured


The common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory tract, which includes the nose, mouth, throat and lungs. Symptoms include a runny nose, cough, nasal congestion, sore throat, sneezing and sometimes a fever. Viruses that cause colds can spread from infected people to other people via the air and close contact. Typically, a cold lasts seven to 10 days and the average adult experiences two to three of them every year.

Why Is It So Hard to Cure?

  • The common cold isn’t just one virus
    • There are more than 100 known strains of rhinovirus, the virus that’s responsible for more than half of cold-like illnesses.
    • An effective treatment would have to tackle dozens of viruses that cause similar symptoms.
  • Mutation and variation
    • The many rhinovirus strains regularly mutate and create new strains.
  • It’s low risk
    • The common cold poses a very low threat for healthy populations.
    • A vaccine would have to carry a very small risk-to-benefit ratio for the FDA to approve it (meaning any potential side effects should be less risky than those of the common cold).

Finding a Cure: Nothing to Sneeze At

Scientists are hard at work trying to develop a vaccine or antiviral drug for the common cold. In the meantime, there are a few measures you can take to help avoid a cold or the flu. If you catch a cold, you don’t have to be miserable. Along with plenty of rest and fluids, a wide variety of over the counter medications can help temporarily relieve the symptoms of a cold.

Article provided by Theraflu

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