There isn't a single illness that can be identified as a cold. A cold may cause sneezing, nasal congestion, headaches, sore throats and other symptoms, but there are over 200 different viruses that can cause these symptoms.
Nearly everyone has had a cold as it is such a common ailment, in fact, that doctors refer to it as the "common cold." In 1998 alone, more than 65 million people in America reported having colds and nearly half (29.8 million) were children under the age of 17. Since many people don't go to the doctor when they have colds, the actual number is probably much higher.
A cold usually goes away in about a week, but the symptoms, which can include sneezing, nasal congestion, headaches, slight fever, sore throat and others, are unpleasant enough to make a person feel uncomfortable. Over-the-counter cold medicines can help relieve these symptoms. If cold symptoms last for more than two weeks, it is a good idea to check with a doctor to determine whether another illness, such as a sinus infection, is present.
A Closer Look at Colds