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Sneezing. Coughing. Runny nose. Year in and year out, millions of people in the U.S. come down with what is known as the common cold. (You can understand why it’s called “common.”)

In fact, adults on average get 2 to 3 colds a year, and kids get them even more often— anywhere from 6 to 8 colds per year, on average.1,2 That’s because children tend to be in close contact with other children, and their immune systems are still adapting to being exposed to the viruses that cause the common cold for the first time.

Which leads us to the causes of the common cold. There are some 200 different respiratory viruses that can cause a cold.3 The most common of these are called rhinoviruses.1 In addition to causing the common cold, rhinoviruses can also trigger asthma attacks and have even been linked to sinus and ear infections. Other, less common, culprits that can lead to a common cold include parainfluenza viruses, coronaviruses, and adenoviruses.

How Does the Common Cold Spread?

The common cold is very contagious. That’s because the viruses that cause colds can spread easily from infected people to others through the air and close personal contact. The viruses can spread through tiny droplets released into the air whenever a sick person coughs, sneezes, or blows their nose near someone else.

You can also get infected by touching a surface, like a doorknob, with virus droplets on it or by sharing contaminated objects—such as utensils, towels, toys, or phones—with someone who’s sick. So if you touch your eyes, mouth, or nose right after contact or exposure, you’re likely to catch a cold.

People who are sick are most contagious for the first 2 to 3 days of a cold.3 After about a week, most people are no longer contagious.

While there is no immediate cure for the common cold, the good news is that most people recover in about 7 to 10 days.1 Also, over-the-counter cold and flu medicines, like Theraflu®, can help ease your symptoms and get you back on your feet. With the powerful symptom relief of Theraflu®, you’ll be able to rest easier as you recover—and feel better.

To learn how to get rid of a cold and help prevent colds from coming on, check out these tips so you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

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