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How Long Is A Cold Contagious

Updated on March 7, 2010

Popular as a viral respiratory tract infection, the common cold is rarely fatal. This cold is caused by the rhinovirus that is a very common virus. On an average an adult gets the common cold around twice or thrice a year. Children, on the other hand, are more vulnerable and they are susceptible to common colds for as many as ten times in a year. Whenever a person is afflicted by this ailment a common question is often asked that how long is a cold contagious? In fact, there is no definite answer to the contagious period of the common cold. The contagious period differs from person to person and there has been a number of studies and research that has been done in this regard.

It is very difficult to ascertain that for how long is a common cold contagious? According to medical experts and their studies, the common contagious cold may begin from two to three days prior to the incubation time i.e. the time period that falls between the infection and the appearance of the ailment. In the case of a common cold the incubation period is generally between two to five days in most cases. There are cases where the affected person may continue to be contagious even after the symptoms of the common cold are gone.

In the case “for how long is a common cold contagious?” a person can be at the worse contagious stage during the second and the fourth day of the common cold. During this period the common cold symptoms are at its peak and this is the reason why the chances of transmitting the infection are high.

The common cold can be easily spread to another person by coughing, sneezing or even talking. The virus enters the body through the mouth or the nose. Hand to hand contact can also be another medium of transmitting the disease to another person. You can also contract the infection by sharing items. The common cold virus is so easily transmitted that even if you touch an infected person you can contract the infection.

In addition to the question for “how long is a common cold contagious? “, you also should know the fact that the early stages of the common cold is the stage when a person is most vulnerable to the infection. This is because of the fact that when the virus enters the body of a person and by the time it affects the immune system of the person and starts working it spreads rapidly, making the cold the most contagious.

Thus, from the above, it is evident that the most contagious period of a common cold is in the early stages of the infection. You ought to take necessary precautions and try to avoid direct and indirect contact of the in infected person as much as possible. Though it is difficult you should ensure that you take the above steps so that you are free from the irritations of a running nose, headaches and a burning sensation in the eyes.


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    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 

      6 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Dear susanbell,

      Thank you for a well written article on the most common of our diseases. The points you raise are very useful. Voted up, useful and interesting.

      Kind regards Peter


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