Fact Check: Is the common cold a cure but not an illness?-thip

Is common cold not an illness?

Is common cold a cure for illnesses?

Common cold is a contagious respiratory illness induced by immune system’s response to viruses. Viruses that cause the common cold can spread through air and close contact. But the common cold can also be a cure for illnesses. Common cold increases the formation of mucus. This mucus traps virus particles and release them out of the body.

Half True rating

Quick Take

A social media post claims common cold is a cure for illnesses but is not an illness itself. We fact checked and found the claim to be Half True

The Claim

An Instagram post claims there is no cure for the common cold because the common cold itself is a cure for other illnesses. 


Fact Check

What is the common cold?

The common cold is the immune system’s response to the infection caused by viruses. Viruses that cause the common cold can spread from infected people to others through air and close contact. This can happen when you inhale air sneezed by an infected person and also shaking hands with an infected person, or touching a surface, like a doorknob, that has respiratory viruses on it, then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Is there no cure for the common cold?

Yes, there is no cure for the common cold. An article published on the Harvard University website has discussed why the common cold has no cure. The first reason informs that the common cold is caused by different viruses, in which rhinovirus is the most common. Rhinovirus itself has over 100 types. So, it is difficult to develop a single drug to target all viruses. 

Besides this, viruses evolve rapidly and change into other types. This is another reason why even if a single drug develops, it won’t be effective against the evolved viruses.

Is the common cold a cure but not an illness?

This statement is half true. By definition, the common cold is a contagious respiratory illness. However, the common cold can be a cure for various illnesses because this condition increases mucus discharge. The increased mucus can trap virus particles and release them out of the body.

Common cold shows symptoms of airway swelling, sore throat, and fever in response to the virus within the body. These symptoms inform that the immune system is fighting against the virus. 

General Physician

General Physician Dr Kashyap Dakshini explains, ‘Common cold is not a cure, nor is it a way of detoxification of the body. Rather, it is a viral infection with symptoms like runny nose, sore throat, cough or sneezing, which may be contracted from someone who has a cold’.

We searched online to understand the source of such a claim. As a result, we found a Facebook post that claims respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is not a contagious virus but the excretions of a toxic cell. The social media post further urges people to ‘start expressing gratitude for the symptoms, for they are the cure’. 

In contrast to what this Facebook post claims, RSV is a respiratory virus that transmits from an infected person to a healthy one. As per the available evidence, RSV is lethal among children and immunocompromised people. 

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