The common cold: a review of the literature

Eur J Intern Med. 2004 Apr;15(2):79-88. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2004.01.006.


Respiratory viral infections, also known as the common cold, are the most common infections in humans. Despite their benign nature, they are a major cause of morbidity and mortality on a worldwide basis. Several viruses have been associated with such illness, of which rhinovirus is the most common. Symptom production is a combination of viral cytopathic effect and the activation of inflammatory pathways. Therefore, antiviral treatment alone may not be able to prevent these events. The optimal use of such agents also requires earlier initiation; therefore, it is important to develop accurate and rapid diagnostic techniques for respiratory viruses. Before any reliable and effective treatment is available, symptomatic therapies may remain the only possible choice of management.