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Coryza is a word describing the symptoms of a head cold1. It describes the inflammation of the mucus membranes lining the nasal cavity which usually gives rise to the symptoms of nasal congestion and loss of smell, among other symptoms. It should be noted that Coryza may not always have an infectious or allergenic etiology and can be due to something as innocuous as a cold wind or spicy food. It is also a symptom of narcotic withdrawal

Classically used in association with the "three Cs" of Measles infection2: Coryza, Conjunctivitis, and Cough.

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.


In the 80th Scripps National Spelling Bee, coryza was misspelled by Nate Gartke of Alberta in Round 12, making Evan O'Dorney of California champion after he correctly spelled serrefine.


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.

See also