Conquering The Common Cold

common cold

A surprisingly high number of visitors seeking help at hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers are told they have the common cold. Glad to hear it's not something far more ominous sounding they're disappointed to hear there's no real cure aside from aspirin and bed rest. The biggest reason that the common cold has defied treatment is that the rhinovirus has so many strains that it presents a moving target for any drug.

Now the cold treatment resistance may have been broken by a research team headed by Dr. Stephen Liggett, an asthma expert at the University of Maryland and Dr. Ann C Palmenberg, a cold virologist at the University of Wisconsin. “Maybe we will have four or five drugs available to beat the common cold” said Dr. Liggett in the journal Science. “Once a patient’s specific rhinovirus is known, we could actually pick the right drug for the right patient.”


There is little common about the “common cold”. There are over 100 known versions of the rhinovirus. These versions are constantly mutating and have little in common other than causing similar symptoms of aches and pains, fever and runny noise.

Although not associated with fatal disease, rhinoviruses are associated with significant sickness. The common cold is estimated to contribute to 30-50% of time lost from work for adults and 60-80% of time lost from school for children. Complications from the common cold include otitis media, sinusitis and chronic bronchitis. In elderly patients, infants, and those with asthma or weakened immune systems, complications from a cold can be dangerous.

The result of the researcher’s work is a family tree of the different viruses. The viruses fit into about 15 different families. These families have a lot in common and may respond to drugs or medicines in the same way.

Although there has been some major breakthroughs regarding the common cold, for now people have no choice but to let the virus run its course.



Thanks for the good information on cold viruses and explaining how they are a moving target for treatment. It sounds to me like the best option is to pick the cold and pain relief of one's choice -- then hope it runs its course quickly. It does make a case for keeping one's immune system in tip-top shape, too. Thanks for the article! -- V.