Sniff. Hack. Honk.
If it seems to you that you have the same exact cold as everybody you know - maybe the throat's not too bad, but the sneezing is relentless, or the cough is terrible but the sniffles haven't shown up - you're probably right.There are "a couple of hundred" viruses that can cause the common cold, according to Dr. Larry Anderson, a virus specialist with the national Centers for Disease Control. "There will be a range, of maybe more than one agent, circulating at a given time - but you also may have one predominant virus."
And a certain virus, he said, "will have certain types of symptoms."
During the winter, a particular influenza strain often comes to dominate the flu season from coast to coast. A particular cold virus, however, doesn't usually spread that far, Anderson noted: "By and large, other viruses don't spread in a national pattern like flu does."
The cold going around "may vary from community to community, or even from time to time within the community," he said. "There can be one, or several types of rhinoviruses causing the colds."
There are a number of government agencies doing research on the common cold - one of the most loathed diseases around, albeit not the most serious.
The CDC and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases study colds. The Food and Drug Administration evaluates cold treatments. Even the National Center for Health Statistics keeps some facts and figures on the disease-related impact of colds.
But with all that, there's no cure in sight - partly because a cure would have to be able to wipe out some 200 specific viruses.