You have a viral upper respiratory infection. It is also called a URI or cold. A tiny germ called a virus causes this infection. It often affects your nose, throat, ears, and sinuses. A cold can easily spread from person to person. Coughing, sneezing, and touching something with the germ on it spreads the cold. Viral infections often go away after 2 to 3 weeks without treatment. But some can cause very serious health problems.