6 Reasons Why Your Cold Lingers
Why Your Cold Won't Go Away, and What to Do About it
3. Taking Too Much Drying Medicine
Anyone who has tried to sleep with a completely stuffed nose understands the
appeal of medications that dry everything up. A little drying action is OK,
Rogg says, but too much can actually make things worse and prolong your cold
"One thing we see ... is that
people take all these drying compounds, which really suck the water out of the
mucus and it makes you breathe better, but the mucus sticks in the sinuses more," Rogg says.
By overdoing it with drying medications like decongestants, you remove the
moisture from your system, which in turn, makes it more difficult for the body
to drain what’s there. Not only that, you may also be creating a host of other
symptoms you didn’t have in the first place. Using a decongestant nasal
spray for more than three or four days, for example, can cause a
medication tolerance to build up. And, taking too much of an oral
decongestant can cause tremors, elevated blood pressure, and constipation.
"I have people coming in who have been taking Sudafed around the clock for 10 days and they are
hypertensive, their heart rate is 120, and they
have tremors. And then they are convinced they are developing something worse
because they aren’t getting better and now they have all these other things
[going on]," Rogg says.
4. Treating the Wrong Illness
The common cold can easily lead to and be confused with other ailments, such
as sinus infections or allergies. Often, people
convinced they’ve been suffering with a cold for a few weeks may not realize
that they aren’t getting better because they’ve been treating the wrong
It's quite common to confuse allergies with a cold, says Katona, because
allergies typically have symptoms that are the same as or at least very similar
to a cold. There are a few ways to tell the difference between the two,
Cold symptoms typically manifest from the neck up, and they usually peak
after a few days. Allergies, on the other hand, can present as a low-grade,
persistent set of symptoms. Although allergies and colds can both cause a
cough, runny nose and sneezing,
they part ways at muscle aches, fatigue, and decreased
appetite, which would all be more symptomatic of a cold than allergies.
One good way to distinguish between a cold and allergies, Rogg says, is to
take an antihistamine. "If you take a
Claritin and suddenly feel a
world better, then it’s probably an allergy."
Another concern, Rogg says, is that a cold disrupts the normal protective
barrier of the body, making you more susceptible to secondary infections. "You
hear very often that a person got a cold, started to feel better and then got
worse," he says. "That’s usually a sign that they’re super-infected with
some other organism; typically bacteria."