The Common Cold & Weight Loss

The common cold can lead to slight weight loss because of a loss of appetite. On the other hand, a certain type of cold virus might lead to weight gain. More than 200 different viruses are known to cause the symptoms of the common cold.


Cold symptoms include mucus buildup in your nose, difficulty breathing through your nose, swelling of your sinuses, sneezing, sore throat, cough or headache, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Most colds occur during fall or winter. You are more likely to catch a cold if you touch a surface that has cold germs on it and then touch your eyes or nose, or if you inhale drops of mucus full of cold germs from the air.


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You can relieve common cold symptoms by resting, drinking plenty of fluids, gargling with warm saltwater, using petroleum jelly for a raw nose and taking aspirin or acetaminophen for headache or fever. To prevent catching a cold, keep your hands away from your eyes and nose. Avoid being close to people who have a cold. Wash your hands often and clean household surfaces with a virus-killing disinfectant.

Weight Loss

Loss of appetite can occur when you have a cold, which can lead to a slight weight loss. This symptom is caused by a release of cytokines from the white cells that fight off infection. Cytokines are chemicals that circulate in the blood to the brain and cause fever and fatigue, in addition to loss of appetite.

Weight Gain

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Children who have had a specific strain of a common cold virus called adenovirus 36, or AD36, might be more likely to have obesity than other children, according to a 2010 study published by Charles Gabbert and colleagues in the journal ​Pediatrics​. Out of 124 children studied, 54 percent had obesity. Of the 19 children who tested positive for AD36 antibodies, 15 had obesity. However, this study doesn't prove that AD36 causes obesity. Instead, it could suggest that children with obesity are more susceptible to AD36.


The AD36 virus might cause changes to cells in the body that lead to weight gain, according to MSNBC. It might manipulate fat cell precursors into releasing more fat cells or be able to modify fat cells themselves so that they store more fat.