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A head cold may resemble other similar conditions but differs due to the location of the symptoms.



Don’t look now but here comes HEAD COLD SEASON.

Head colds can closely resemble other conditions, including chest colds and sinus infections. However, there are some significant differences.

A head cold occurs when a viral infection causes symptoms primarily in the head, such as a stuffy nose or a headache. It differs from a chest cold because of the location of the symptoms. Chest colds cause symptoms including chest congestion and coughing.

Sinus infections share many of the same symptoms as head colds, but their causes are usually different. Sinus infections are mostly caused by bacterial infections, although sometimes a sinus infection can be caused by a virus.

Several types of viruses can cause a head cold, including:

  • hinoviruses
  • human metapneumovirus (HMPV)
  • human parainfluenza virus (HPIV)
  • respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

Head colds are transmitted when an infected person sneezes or coughs, projecting droplets infected with the virus into the air or onto people around them.

Risk factors

Although anyone can get a head cold, and most people will experience many colds in their lifetime, some factors increase the risk of getting sick. These include:

  • having a weakened immune system
  • being under the age of 6
  • smoking
  • the season, as colds are more common in fall and winter
  • exposure to other people with head colds, particularly schoolchildren


It is possible to catch a head cold by coming into contact with surfaces or things that someone with the virus previously touched. The virus can enter the body through a person’s eyes, mouth, or nose.


Symptoms of a head cold begin to appear within 3 days of exposure to rhinovirus or another cold-causing virus. These signs and symptoms vary between individuals and include:

Symptoms of a head cold may include a runny nose, sneezing, and a sore throat.

  • malaise, or a general feeling of being unwell
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • runny nose
  • stuffy nose
  • sneezing
  • congestion
  • body aches
  • headache
  • low-grade fever
  • fatigue

Most people recover from a head cold in 7-10 days, but symptoms may last longer in some cases.


Most people will recover from a head cold without experiencing any complications. When complications do arise, they include:

  • Asthma attack: In those with asthma, a cold may trigger an asthma attack.
  • Acute sinusitis: A head cold that does not resolve can eventually contribute to inflammation and infection of the sinuses, a condition known as sinusitis.
  • Ear infection (otitis media): If the virus gets into the area behind the eardrum, it can lead to earaches and a green or yellow discharge from the nose.
  • Other infections: Some people, especially children and individuals with weakened immune systems, can develop secondary infections following a head cold. Typical secondary infections associated with a head cold include strep throat, pneumonia, and croup, which a doctor must treat.