Fast Five Quiz: Rhinovirus Facts vs Fiction

Michael Stuart Bronze, MD

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December 09, 2020

Few cells are actually infected by rhinovirus, and the infection involves only a small portion of the epithelium. Symptoms develop 1-2 days after viral infection, peaking 2-4 days after inoculation; however, reports have described symptoms as early as 2 hours after inoculation with primary symptoms 8-16 hours later.

Nasal dryness or irritation may be the first symptom of rhinovirus infection. A sore throat or throat irritation is also a common initial symptom and is frequently the most bothersome of the early symptoms. This is followed by nasal discharge, nasal congestion, and sneezing, which intensify over the next 2-3 days. Nasal secretions typically become thicker and colored after 2-3 days of illness. Nasal obstruction can interfere with sleep and feeding. A local inflammatory response to rhinovirus in the respiratory tract can lead to nasal discharge, nasal congestion, sneezing, and throat irritation. The nasal epithelium is typically not damaged.

Viral shedding can occur a few days before cold symptoms are recognized by the patient. This shedding lasts, on average, 10-14 days in immunocompetent individuals and may not be associated with respiratory symptoms.

Read more about the presentation of rhinovirus.

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