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The Cold Facts

Shira Yehudit Djlilmand

The common cold is not just an annoying by-product of cold days — it’s also the most frequently caught infectious disease. In the US alone, it costs over 100 million missed school days and almost 100 million doctors’ visits annually. Is there any way to obtain a sniffle-free winter?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

There are few people who have not found themselves at some point snuggled up on the sofa, sniffling, shivering, and generally suffering from that ubiquitous uninvited guest, the common cold. It’s aptly named, as it is indeed extremely common; according to the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, it’s the most frequently caught infectious disease. Adults catch colds around three to four times a year, children as often as 12 times.

Colds cost countries a lot of cash; in the United States, the common cold leads to close to 100 million doctors’ visits annually, costing at least $7.7 billion. Over-the-counter drugs and prescription medicines to relieve cold symptoms together cost over $3 billion. And that’s not all. It’s estimated that over 100 million school days are lost thanks to the common cold, causing parents to miss another 100 or so million workdays to stay home to care for their children. Added to the 150 million workdays that adults lose due to colds, that amounts to 40 percent of all time lost from work — and a whopping $20 billion loss to the economy.

With such startling figures for such a seemingly innocuous illness, it looks like it might well pay to learn a little more about the common cold.


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