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Get to Know the 3 Stages of the Common Cold

Sneezing, sniffling, and scratchy throats are the telltale signs of a cold. While they may be more widespread in winter, you can catch a cold any time of year. Adults average two to four colds per year, while children experience as many as 10. Prevalence among children seems to be related to their high exposure to other kids in day cares and schools.

Common Cold Symptoms and Stages

Cold symptoms can last from two to 10 days and present multiple symptoms during various phases. However, it typically can be broken down into the following three stages.

  1. Onset phase: Colds usually begin with a sore throat. Other early signs include a runny nose and sneezing, which appear one to three days after infection.
  2. Established phase: On days four to seven, symptoms will peak in intensity. Nasal congestion sets in as mucus becomes thicker and may change in color from clear to yellow or green. The discharge tends to clear up over the next few days as you recover, but you might experience headaches and a loss of taste or smell until then.
  3. Resolution phase: Symptoms usually subside by days eight to 10. Coughs and postnasal drip can linger as irritated throats and nasal passages heal.

Treatment and Recovery Tips

There is no cure for a cold, but there are ways to keep yourself from feeling miserable. Get plenty of liquids, rest, and nutrients from fruit and vegetables to help recharge your immune system as it fights off infection. If congestion is a problem, humidifiers, hot shower steam, or saline nasal spray will provide soothing moisture to clear out excess mucus.

You can also use over-the-counter medicines to relieve minor symptoms. ColdCalm by Boiron is specifically formulated with nine homeopathic ingredients to address symptoms at every stage of a cold: sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, and minor sore throat pain.* It is non-drowsy and easy to take. Simply melt the tablets in your mouth — no food or water required. ColdCalm is also available in kid-friendly liquid doses for children ages 6 months and older.

Learn more about staying healthy during cold and flu season by visiting the Boiron Wellness Center.

*Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence. Not FDA evaluated.

4 thoughts on “Get to Know the 3 Stages of the Common Cold”

    1. Hi Johnette, there are no known drug interactions between Oscillococcinum and Nyquil. You can safely take Oscillo alongside other medications, herbs, and supplements. Hope that helps!

    1. Hi Janelle, you can safely take homeopathic cold and flu medicines, as there are no drug interactions or contraindications for use if you have blood pressure or cholesterol issues. If you are looking for specific medicines to treat these conditions, we recommend you consult a homeopathic practitioner. As an OTC medicine manufacturer, we can only offer advice on acute, self-treatable problems. To find a practitioner in your area, please contact the National Center for Homeopathy at or visit

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