This Is How Long You're Contagious If You Have A Cold

The common cold is considered common because most people will likely have two or three a year. While a cold can be caused by more than 200 viruses, a rhinovirus is most commonly the culprit, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you find yourself sneezing or have a runny nose, a sore throat, and a cough, you might have a cold. Sometimes you might develop a fever, but the CDC notes that this isn't the case for most people.

Symptoms of a cold can last up to 14 days, but that doesn't mean you will feel bad that entire time. In fact, most symptoms peak within three days, and then you will slowly begin to feel better. There is no cure for the cold, but you can follow a few steps to help your body recover. Get rest, drink plenty of fluids, and use honey or lozenges to help with a cough or sore throat. You might also try cold and cough medicine to ease symptoms (via CDC).

You're more contagious in the early stages of your cold

According to the National Library of Medicine, people are most infectious two to three days after they first get a cold, and colds are generally not contagious after one week. That said, it's possible that you could remain contagious after that. Hospital medicine specialist Jazmine Sutton told Health that if you're still coughing a couple of weeks after you begin to feel better, you might still be infectious. In addition, sometimes a virus makes a copy of itself in your body and finds its way out. This is called viral shedding, and while it's rare, you are still contagious if this happens.

Unfortunately, there's not much you can do to shorten the time you are infectious. The best thing you can do is practice safe measures to keep from spreading a cold. Try to avoid being around people the first few days you are sick, and then even after that, continue to wash your hands frequently, per Health.