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April 13, 1994

The Common ColdCold Water on Hot News

JAMA. 1994;271(14):1122-1124. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510380078043

The common cold has long been recognized as the acute condition most frequently affecting individuals of all ages.1 In several community-based studies, the illness frequency ranged between four and six episodes per year in children aged 5 to 9 years and from three to five episodes in young adults, with higher rates in those living in crowded conditions or mothers exposed to young children.2,3 Median duration varied from 7 to 13 days, in part dependent on age.4,5 Given the frequency and duration of these illnesses it is not surprising that considerable public attention has been directed to their treatment. The expression "finding a cure for the common cold" has been heard frequently in the media. Identifying etiology was the first approach taken by the scientific community. Rhinoviruses were the agents most frequently isolated from persons with common colds, and their predominance became more apparent as techniques for