What Causes Colds?

Is there just one cause of the common cold?

Sanaz Majd, MD
1-minute read

Question: What Causes Colds?

Colds are caused by any of 200+ viruses, with the majority of them being from the rhinovirus family. They are called rhinoviruses because under an electron microscope, they have horns and charge other viruses, yes like the rhino.

Actually, the name comes from the Greek word for nose, but that didn’t sound exciting enough.

These viruses are highly contagious because a person with the virus will spread it to nearly anything they touch, infecting the next person who touches it. That’s why most colds infect multiple family members or coworkers.

For more on how infections are spread, please refer to my episode about influenza.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only. This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider. Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

About the Author

Sanaz Majd, MD

Dr. Sanaz Majd is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who graduated from Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia. Her special interests are women's health and patient education.