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Colds and flu

Updated 06 March 2019

What is a cold?

Colds are viral infections of the nose and throat. Colds can go on to involve the sinuses, ears, larynx, trachea and bronchi directly or through secondary effects

Colds are viral infections of the nose and throat. Colds can go on to involve the sinuses, ears, larynx (vocal cords), trachea and bronchi directly or through secondary effects.

The presence of the virus causes inflammation of membrane linings in the nose, so that there is swelling with obstruction (stuffiness) and increased mucous secretions.

Colds are the most common type of respiratory infection. They’re usually mild illnesses that naturally come to an end, only occasionally leading to further problems.

Reviewed by Cape Town-based general practitioner, Dr Dalia Hack. March 2019.

Read more:

- Symptoms of the common cold

- Risk factors for a cold

 

Ask the Expert

Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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