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24-Hour Colds

December 1, 2016

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



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; produce worse colds than others.


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


I might have seen that same cold virus ten years ago, so my body remembers that virus and quickly asserts itself and forces it down, and recovers. But if we find a new one, then 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.


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

Story by Susanne Bard