Cold and Flu Causes
Risk factors and complications
Both colds and flu spread quickly through airborne droplets, personal contact, and touching of shared surfaces and items.
The common cold
While colds can occur anytime during the year, patients are more likely to contract a cold during the late fall and winter—since they spend more time indoors, exposed to more people in confined spaces.
Children suffer more colds annually than adults; they’re more susceptible due to their developing immune systems and close proximity to other children at school or daycare.
Other risk factors include:
- Compromised immune function due to chronic illness
- Those most at risk of the flu include:
- Children under age 5 (especially under 6 mos.)
- Older patients (over 65)
- Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
- Pregnant patients
- Patients with a weakened immune system due to disease (e.g., cancer) or medications (e.g., chemotherapy)
- Patients with a chronic illness (e.g., asthma, heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease)
- Patients with a BMI of 40 or higher
Following are common complications of cold and flu:
- Otitis media
- Acute sinusitis
- Strep throat
- Croup or bronchiolitis in children