What Causes a Cold

There are actually over 200 different viruses that are known to cause a cold. We can all universally agree that the symptoms that accompany a cold are miserable. But there are three main viruses that tend to stand out among the 200 viruses leading to a cold. They are:

  • the Rhinovirus (responsible for 10%-40% of colds);
  •  the Coronaviruses (responsible for around 20% of colds); and
  • the Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (responsible for 10%)

Let’s examine each and identify the hand they play in your catching a cold this winter.


These tend to put in an appearance in early fall, spring, or summer. There are more than 110 different types of this virus. While rhinoviruses don’t normally cause serious illness, the other cold viruses can lead to lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, especially among young children.

Coronaviruses and the Common Cold

This virus is responsible for a great many of the colds contracted by us adults. You’ll see it cropping up in the winter and early spring. Only three or four of the kinds of virus in this group infect humans, but scientists believe the coronavirus is responsible for a large number of adult colds.

Other Causes of the Common Cold

structure of cold virusThen there are the 10%-15% of adult colds caused by  the final virus grouping in the list above: The Respiratory syncytial virus. This is the one that will knock you flat as it often gets into the respiratory system and causes complications, such as pneumonia.

True or False.

1. “My cold was caused from that chill I got the other night when I went out without my coat.” FALSE. There is no evidence that exposure to cold weather or a  chill will cause a cold.

2. “I’ve just been under too much stress lately. No wonder I got this cold!” FALSE. There is also no evidence that stress, diet or lack of exercise causes colds, although they do increase your chances of getting one when exposed to a virus.

With colds, there are no guarantees, but you can do your part in combating them by practicing a healthy regiment of a nutritious diet and physical exercise.

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