You already know that a scratchy throat, annoying cough, and lots of sneezing are part of the game. You can also probably count on a stuffy nose and some aches and pains. But when is it time to put down the chicken soup and get some advice from a pro?
Take stock of your symptoms and see if they fit into one of these patterns:
By Chris C. Anderson
The Rumor: Humidifiers should be cleaned every once in a while
If you've ever lived in a dry climate, chances are you’ve had a humidifier in your house at some point. Legend has it they need to be cleaned from time to time. Really cleaned, as in a proper, follow-all-of-the-instructions type of cleaning. And that makes sense. It really does. After all, a humidifier is a device that holds water and vaporizes it into the air, and you end up breathing that vapor. You wouldn’t drink...
If it doesn't go away, it's likely due to postnasal drip -- mucus that moves from your nose into your throat. It can be treated with antihistamines. But it could also be related to asthma or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). Your doctor can tell you what to do for it.
A lasting, severe cough is also the main symptom of whooping cough, a disease that's become more common in many parts of the U.S. So, if you've been hacking away for more than 2-3 weeks, your doctor may give you a test to see if you've got it.