Head cold

What is a head cold? Symptoms, causes, cures and when to see the doctor.

10 (4 reviews) Rate this page


Dr. Jen Tan
Immune System Expert
@AVogelUK
Ask Dr. Jen Tan

What is a head cold?

A head cold is basically the common cold. It gets its name because the symptoms tend to be centred around the head and facial region more than a usual cold would. Head colds generally last between a week and ten days, and often the symptoms are manageable without medical attention.

What are the symptoms of a head cold?

With a head cold, the virus primarily affects the nose and sinuses. A head cold follows the same pattern as a normal cold, although the symptoms affecting these areas of the body are more pronounced than usual.

As with a normal cold, symptoms last for about one week and it is unusual for complications to arise. However, the likelihood of sinusitis and ear infections slightly increases with a head cold.

What causes a head cold?

The bugs responsible for head colds are the same viruses causing the common cold. However, they appear to have a greater tendency to give rise to symptoms in your sinuses, head and face.

The cold virus can be found in droplets in the air, on surfaces and in unexpected places such as petrol pumps. Only once the symptoms present themselves will you be able to tell if you have picked up a normal cold or a head cold.

There are certain measures you can take, such as washing your hands regularly, which will reduce your chances of being infected by a cold virus.

How to cure a head cold

As with the common cold, there is no cure for a head cold. However, there is a variety of remedies which can ease your symptoms. As a head cold targets the head and sinuses more than an average cold, remedies such as nasal sprays to help with a blocked nose and painkillers to help with headaches may be useful.

There are a number of remedies which can help ease the symptoms of a head cold:

  • To treat the underlying viral infection causing your head cold, use an Echinacea extract to help relieve symptoms. It works on the immune system and also has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.

TIP: A head cold has the same cause as the common cold so using Echinacea drops or tablets will help relieve symptoms and strengthen the immune system.

  • Head colds tend to lead to nasal congestion or a blocked nose. This in turn can give rise to inflammation in your sinuses or ears and a general feeling of being all ‘bunged up’. A nasal decongestant can help ease these symptoms and get you breathing freely again.

TIP: A menthol based nasal spray can help a blocked nose caused by a head cold. Unlike other types of nasal sprays, it can be used for up to 30 days if necessary.

When to go to the doctor?

It is very unlikely that you will need to seek medical help for a head cold. However, you may need to seek medical advice if you develop a complication such as sinusitis, or if your asthma worsens. As with all illnesses, if you are worried about your condition, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Echinaforce® - Echinacea drops and tablets for cold and flu relief

For relieving the symptoms of colds and flu. Also in 15 & 100ml drops, 42 & 120 tabs.
More info

What's being asked

How long do colds last?

Most colds will not last longer than 10 days. Of course, some people recover sooner than others, ...
Read more >

I have had a cold for over a month, I can't seem to shift it. I drink green tea, eat healthy and exercise 5 time a week.

You could look at using Echinaforce® which is great for colds and flu. However, if symptoms still ...
Read more >

Can head colds cause dizziness?

Yes, a head cold can lead to dizziness. The reason is that the infection and inflammation leads to ...
Read more >

Is it really the flu?

Our quick quiz helps you figure out if you really do have the flu, or just a nasty cold.

Check your symptoms

Feed your cold with 10 tasty foods

As you'll probably already know, diet is important for a huge number of health conditions, and the common cold is one of them!

Feed your cold with 10 tasty foods

Healthy & nutritious dinner ideas

Get new recipes in your inbox every week. Sign up now