What are the Causes of Cold and Flu?

Updated at: Aug 30, 2012
What are the Causes of Cold and Flu?

What are the Causes of Cold and Flu?: The causes of cold and flu are viruses. For flu, there is a specific virus called rhinitis, while for common cold, a host of viruses exist that can lead to the condition.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Communicable DiseasesWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Aug 29, 2012

What are the causes of cold and flu

Common cold and flu are viral illnesses that is they care caused due to infection by a virus. Read to know the causes of cold and flu. [Read: Causes of Influenza]

  • Cold can be caused due to several different types of viruses (>200 types), but rhinovirus is the commonest cause and it causes about 30%-35% of all adult colds. Other viruses which commonly cause cold are coronavirus, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and parainfluenza virus. [Read: What is Common Cold Viral Rhinitis?]
  • Flu (influenza) is caused due to infection by any of the three types of influenza virus. The three types of influenza virus are types A, B, and C. Of these types, A and B are more common and cause serious epidemics every winter. The type C is milder and has not been reported to cause any major outbreak. The type C flu virus usually causes milder respiratory symptoms. Many animals such as ducks, chickens, pigs, whales, horses, and seal can get infected with type A flu virus whereas the type B viruses circulates widely only among humans. [Read: Influenza A: Symptoms and Treatment]


Common colds and flu occur recurrently. As there are many viruses which can cause cold, the body never develops resistance against all of them and as the flu virus changes form frequently people don’t develop resistance to flu virus. According to experts, children in preschool and elementary school can experience six to 12 colds per year and adolescents and adults usually have two to four colds per year. Flu vaccine taken every year can protect you from type A and B flu viruses. There is no flu shot for type C virus. [Read: What is the expected duration of Common Cold Viral Rhinitis?]


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