What It Really Means To Have A 'Head Cold'

Common colds, sometimes referred to as "head colds," are caused primarily by the rhinovirus, but there are more than 200 different viruses that can cause one, according to the National Institutes of Health. Most adults get around 2-3 colds a year, and children have a tendency to get even more than that. You can expect symptoms of a cold to last anywhere from 7-10 days. Colds are very contagious, and you are more likely to catch one when it's cold outside, primarily because people tend to congregate and stay indoors for longer (via the Cleveland Clinic).

A common cold is also not the same thing as a chest cold. A chest cold is usually accompanied by a wet cough that might keep you awake. You may also experience shortness of breath and a sore chest. In addition, a common cold is not the same thing as the flu. While they share some of the same symptoms, you are more likely to develop a fever with the flu, per the Cleveland Clinic.

A head cold is in your head

A "head cold" gets its name because the symptoms generally appear in your head — or at least above your shoulders. The signs of a head cold are a sore throat, sneezing, coughing, and a stuffy and/or runny nose, per Health. You will likely begin to experience symptoms of a head cold about 3 days after you've been exposed to the virus. While a sinus infection normally affects your head, it is caused by bacteria growing in the spaces behind the eyes and nose. Your nose may run, but a sure sign that you have a sinus infection is that your face is tender around your eyes and cheeks (via Healthline).

You don't typically need to see a doctor when you have a head cold, but if you experience trouble breathing, develop a fever higher than 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit with a severe headache, ear pain, a rash, or confusion, you should schedule a visit (per Healthline).