How long can colds last?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Symptoms usually start two to three days after you've been infected, and colds can last for up to two weeks.

The first symptoms of influenza, including fever, chills, headache, and body aches, often begin to go away after about 2 or 4 days. In some cases, these symptoms will last 5 days or longer. The respiratory symptoms of influenza, such as coughing, throat irritation, and congestion may last for days or weeks.

Parents often look for a quick fix to their child’s cold and cough symptoms. But, according to Dennis Woo, MD, UCLA pediatrician, most colds will last seven to 10 days with or without treatment.
Cold symptoms can last up to two weeks, but most people recover after a week to 10 days. If your symptoms persist, call your doctor. You may be suffering from allergies, not a cold. If you have a high fever, severe sinus pain or a cough that produces mucus, you may have a more serious illness. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.