Common cold symptoms to look out for.
Cold symptoms vary from person to person. Many of the symptoms that make a person feel ill during a cold actually result from the activities of the immune system trying to eliminate the cold virus from the body.3
You’ll know you’ve caught a cold if you begin to experience symptoms including a sore throat, cough, tiredness, sneezing or a blocked nose.1 Having a blocked nose can be one of the most annoying symptoms of a cold, since it makes the simple act of breathing more difficult, and can result in a lack of sleep or disrupted sleep patterns.7
Let’s look at the common cold symptoms in more detail:4
- Blocked nose: this is a later symptom in the development of a cold and it typically gets worse during the first week of symptoms.
- Runny nose: this is an early symptom of the common cold and can cause sneezing.
- Sore throat: throat irritation (a dry scratchy sensation) is an early symptom of the common cold and may develop into a sore throat.
- Sneezing: this is triggered by the nasal congestion and runny nose that come with a cold.
- Cough: this is often a dry cough that can cause loss of sleep and exhaustion.
- Tiredness: the common cold can make you feel tired and lacking in energy. You might also feel less alert than usual.
Generally, you’ll start to feel cold symptoms between one and three days after infection with a cold virus, and they should reach a peak of severity within two to three days. Symptoms will start to taper off after seven days. But do remember, you can be contagious before you start to feel ill and for some time afterwards.1
- Days 1–3: You might feel more tired than usual and feel the first signs of a sore throat (perhaps just an itchy throat) and you’ll probably start sneezing.
- Days 3–5: You may start to notice that your nose is blocked, being at its worst on days 3 and 4. You may also have a runny nose and a cough. Often the cough may linger for a few weeks after the blocked nose and other cold symptoms start to go away.
- Days 6–7: You should be starting to feel better and most of your symptoms will be clearing up.
- Days 7-10: If you still have symptoms after 7–10 days or your symptoms start to worsen, speak to your doctor so they can rule out other causes, such as a sinus infection or allergies.1