There are actually no universally agreed-upon stages of a cold, but the following five stages are commonly described:
- Incubation period: This is the time between when the virus enters the body and when symptoms start to appear. It usually lasts from one to three days.
- Prodromal stage: This stage is characterized by the onset of symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, and mild fever. It usually lasts from one to three days.
- Acute stage: This is the stage when symptoms are at their worst. It typically involves more severe symptoms like cough, congestion, and high fever. It can last from three to seven days.
- Subacute stage: This stage is marked by a decrease in the severity of symptoms. The cough may linger, but most other symptoms will begin to improve. It can last from seven to ten days.
- Recovery stage: This is the final stage of a cold, and it is characterized by the complete resolution of symptoms. It can take up to two weeks to fully recover.