A "germ" is a microscopic living organism. Most germs can be helpful ... but some of these microorganisms can cause disease.
By understanding germs and how they are spread, you can protect yourself and those around you from cold and flu. Cold and flu viruses are spread easily from person to person in a variety of ways:
Bacteria are germs that get nutrients from their environment - and they can live virtually anywhere. Bacteria are found inside humans, on surfaces, in water, or in almost any place you can think of. Although some can make a person very sick, most bacteria are harmless to humans.
Viruses, on the other hand, must be inside a living thing (like a human or animal) in order to reproduce and live - but they can survive on surfaces and be spread to someone who touches that surface. Unlike bacteria or mold/mildew, which are capable of growing on their own, viruses need a host to infect in order to reproduce. It is through this process that viruses cause disease.
Learn more about germs in Germs 101.
Cold and flu are powerful viruses that are spread easily between people. It's important to do everything you can to prevent the spread of germs so that you and your family don't get sick. Flu can also cause mild to severe complications, especially for at-risk groups like young children and the elderly.
The good news is that prevention of cold and flu is relatively easy. It begins with basic good practices like:
Sometimes it's hard to know if you have a cold or if you have the flu. Many of the symptoms are the same ... but some are not. Both the cold and flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria ... which means that you can't treat them with antibiotics.
For the most part, the common cold affects the upper respiratory system - so most of the symptoms involve the eyes, nose and throat.
Caused by : A variety of different rhinoviruses (there are 99). Although rhinoviruses are the major cause of colds, they can also be caused by other viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), parainfluenza virus, adenovirus and coronavirus.
Spread by : Touching contaminated surfaces or other people's hands, then touching your eyes and nose.
Symptoms appear between 12 hours and 5 days of exposure - but most often within 48 hours.
Lasts for: 2 to 7 days
Sometimes leads to: sinusitis (sinus infection) or ear infection
Read about Signs of a Sinus InfectionBack to Top