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24-Hour Colds

October 21, 2010

Why you sometimes feel a cold coming on, only to have the symptoms disappear the next day.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
The 24-hour cold…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Have you ever felt like you were starting to come down a cold, only to have it fizzle out within 24 hours? Infectious disease specialist William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine says one reason is that there’s a variety of cold viruses.

WILLIAM SCHAFFNER (Vanderbilt University School of Medicine)
The number of viruses that can cause the common cold are greater than 100. Some are more aggressive than others.

HIRSHON:
Not only that, but if we’ve encountered a particular cold virus before, our immune system is primed to deal with it.

SCHAFFNER:
I might have seen that same cold virus, oh, ten years ago, so my body remembers that virus and quickly asserts itself and forces it down, and recovers quickly. but if we find a new one, that can still give us a bad cold, even if though we’re 60 years of age and have seen a lot of colds in the past.

HIRSHON:
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.