Coryza is a word describing the symptoms of a head cold.[1] It describes the inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the nasal cavity which usually gives rise to the symptoms of nasal congestion and loss of smell, among other symptoms. Coryza may not always have an infectious or allergenic etiology and can be due to something as innocuous as a cold wind, spicy food or tender points in the muscles of the neck such as the sternocleidomastoid. It is also a symptom of narcotic withdrawal. Coryza is classically used in association with the "four Cs" of measles infection: cough, conjunctivitis, Koplik's spots, and coryza.[2]




This word may have its roots in the Greek Koryza, which is likely to be compounded from "kara" and "zeein". which are the noun for head and the verb, to boil. Coryza would therefore be a boiling over of the head. According to another source, coryza was an ancient Greek word denoting a fool. According to physician Andrew Wylie, "we use the term for a cold in the head, but the two are really synonymous. The ancient Romans advised their patients to clean their nostrils and thereby sharpen their wits."[3]

See also

  • Rhinitis - another word for this set of symptoms
  • Feline coryza


Treatment of coryza depends on etiology. Coryza from any allergic causes usually gets relieved if contact with the allergen (dust, pollen, cold wind,etc) is avoided. Nasal sprays, antihistamines, decongestants are beneficial.But if it is due to any virus it usually take 3-7 days to improve.Symptomatic treatment can be obtained from saline nasal irrigation, nasal sprays, decongestants. But antihistamines are of little value.If coryza is due to bacterial or fungal infections(rarely) then appropriate antimicrobial therapy may be required in addition to the symptomatic treatment.


  1. ^ The Faber Pocket Medical Dictionary. Faber and Faber. London & Boston, "first published" 1978.
  2. ^ Kempe,C. H. Current Pediatric Diagnosis & Treatment. Appleton & Lange, 1987.
  3. ^ Wylie, A, (1927). "Rhinology and laryngology in literature and Folk-Lore.". The Journal of Laryngology & Otology 42 (2): 81–87. doi:10.1017/S0022215100029959. 

Notes on Infectious Coryza