Sneezing, scratchy throat, runny nose-everyone knows the first signs of a cold,
probably the most common illness known. Although the common cold is usually
mild, with symptoms lasting 1 to 2 weeks, it is a leading cause of doctor visits
and missed days from school and work. According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, 22 million school days are lost annually in the United
States due to the common cold.
In the course of a year, people in the United States suffer 1 billion colds,
according to some estimates.
Children have about 6 to 10 colds a year. One important reason why colds are
so common in children is because they are often in close contact with each other
in daycare centers and schools. In families with children in school, the number
of colds per child can be as high as 12 a year. Adults average about 2 to 4
colds a year, although the range varies widely. Women, especially those aged 20
to 30 years, have more colds than men, possibly because of their closer contact
with children. On average, people older than 60 have fewer than one cold a year.