In today’s fast-paced world, it’s hard to slow down for a mere case of the sniffles. Sure, you can try to work through it and hope you’ll feel better quickly. And sometimes that happens. But more often, those pesky symptoms stick around and leave you feeling sneezy and sniffly.
Colds usually last 3 to 7 days, but sometimes they hang on as long as 2 weeks. If you’re under the weather for longer than that, one of these things could be to blame.
When Gina Gallo, a school librarian in Lacombe, La., gets sick, she can take care of herself. She gets her own medicine, makes her own food, and "deals with it," as she puts it. But when her fiancé gets a cold, she says he has "a complete system breakdown."
"The world stops and the whining is incessant," she says. "I am expected to bring him food, take care of him, and generally treat him like the baby that he is."
Gallo's fiancé declined to talk with WebMD for this story. Their Mars-Venus situation...
Sleep helps keep your immune system working like it should. Once you have a cold, you need to catch enough Zzz's to help your body fight off the virus. Take it extra easy during the first 3 days.
Too little shut-eye can also make you more likely to get a cold. One study found that people who got less than 7 hours of sleep a night were nearly three times more likely to get sick than people who slept for 8 hours or more.
2. You’re Low on Fluids
When you’re sick, it’s easy to get dehydrated. A sore throat can make it less than fun to swallow.
A fever draws moisture out of your body. Plus, you lose fluid as your body makes mucus and it drains away. And that over-the-counter cold medicine you’re taking to dry up your head? It can dry the rest of you out, too.
So drink plenty of water, juice, or soup. A side benefit: All that liquid helps loosen up the mucus in your nose and head. Stay away from booze, coffee, and caffeine when you’re looking for things to sip though. They pull out more liquid than they leave behind.
3. You’re Stressed
When you’re freaked out about life, work, or whatever, it takes a toll on your immune system. You can’t fight off viruses as well as you should. That makes you more likely to get a cold, and once that happens, your symptoms are going to be worse.
Ongoing stress makes your body less able to respond to cortisol, a hormone that controls your body’s response to threats like the virus that causes the common cold.