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catching a cold faq

1 Billion

  • The number of colds Americans catch annually; Adults get an average of two to three colds per year, while preschoolers catch up to nine.


  • The approximate number of cold-causing viruses.


  • The number of bacteria that cause the common cold. All colds are caused by viruses.


  • The percent of time antibiotics, which fight bacteria, are prescribed by doctors for a sore throat, a common cold symptom.

$2.9 Billion

  • The amount Americans spend each year on over-the-counter drugs – in addition to $400 million on prescription drugs – to relieve cold symptoms.

2 to 3

  • The number of days people are usually most contagious after catching a cold. Colds are typically not contagious after the first week.


  • The number of scientifically proven cures for the common cold.

7 to 10

  • The number of days required for most cold sufferers to recover.

$7.7 Billion

  • A conservative estimate of the cost of the 100 million physician visits that Americans make annually due to cold symptoms.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. National Library of Medicine and PubMed Health; and JAMA Internal Medicine.

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