It’s almost an annual rite of passage: Winter comes and despite your best
efforts, you catch a cold. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s hard to slow down
for a mere case of the sniffles. Many of us try to work straight through our
colds and hope that, with minimal effort, the symptoms will get better quickly.
Although that may sometimes be the case, it can also happen that pesky cold
symptoms leave us feeling drained for what seems like an eternity.
Cold symptoms can vanish in as
little as two days. Seventy percent of people who catch a cold feel better
within a week, says Gary Rogg, MD, an internal medicine specialist at
Montefiore Medical Center in New York. But it is not unusual to suffer from
symptoms of the common cold for as long as two
Ask any doctor if you should take antibiotics for the flu, and you’ll get a
weary shake of the head and a resounding no. “Viral infections like the
flu aren’t affected by antibiotics,” says William Schaffner, MD, chairman of
the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University’s School of
Medicine in Nashville. “You might as well take a placebo.”
Instead, antiviral medication can be used to treat the viral infections like
the flu. But that is a different type of medicine than antibiotics...
Sometimes, it’s the things we do - or don’t do - that leave us feeling ill
for longer than we expect. Why does your cold seem to be hanging on for longer
than it should? Here are six possible reasons.
1. Lack of Rest
Sleep plays an important role in
our immune system. In fact, a study published earlier this year in the
Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated that people who got less than
seven hours of sleep per night were nearly three times more likely to catch a
cold than were people who slept for eight hours or more.
Once you do have a cold, it will also take longer for it to clear up if you
don’t get adequate rest.
"Most of society in general doesn’t want you calling in sick; they look down
on you if you use your sick days," Rogg says. "But when you're sick, the ideal
thing is to stay home and stay away from people and rest it out."
2. Low on Fluids
Fluids play an important part in your healing process as well. If your cold
won’t go away, consider drinking more water, Gatorade, or juice.
A lack of fluids can cause discomfort and dehydration, particularly because
your water demands increase when you’re sick, given the loss of fluids from
drainage. In some circumstances, a lack of fluids in your system might
contribute to prolonging your symptoms.