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Colds and Chronic Medical Conditions

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The common cold makes most people feel miserable for a few days, but then goes away on its own. However, for people with chronic medical conditions, catching a cold is more likely to lead to serious health problems. Here's a look at some of those conditions and how they can be aggravated by a cold.


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Asthma and Colds

Asthma, a chronic lung disease, affects an estimated 25 million Americans. The common cold can worsen asthma symptoms, making it more difficult to breathe. In addition, certain medications, such as antihistamines, can thicken mucus, making it harder to cough up for those with asthma.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Asthma and Colds.

Heart Disease and Colds

For people with heart disease, catching a cold poses a potential danger. While the cold itself usually isn't a danger, cold complications such as lung infections make it difficult to take in oxygen as efficiently as a person should. This makes the heart work even harder to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. This extra demand on the heart can be quite serious for those with heart disease and colds.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Heart Disease and Colds.

Diabetes and Colds

Diabetes makes it more difficult to ward off cold viruses. In addition, colds add extra stress to the body, which can affect blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Keeping blood sugar levels balanced is important for staying well with diabetes.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Diabetes and Colds.

Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis and Colds

Emphysema and chronic bronchitis affect about 15 million adults in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control. Both medical conditions, which are usually caused by long-term smoking, are marked by obstruction to airflow that interferes with breathing. Symptoms of emphysema and chronic bronchitis worsen with the common cold.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis, and Colds.

HIV/AIDS and Colds

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) kills or damages cells in the body's immune system, making it more difficult to fight infections such as the cold virus. People with HIV/AIDS are also more likely to get cold complications such as pneumonia.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's HIV/AIDS and Colds.

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