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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

6 Reasons Why Your Cold Won’t Go Away

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4. You’re Treating the Wrong Illness

It's easy to confuse a cold with other ailments. You might treat a supposed cold for a few weeks, only to realize that the reason you aren’t getting better is because you’re under the weather with something else, like allergies.

Here’s how to tell them apart:

Cold symptoms usually take a few days to fully show up. Allergies can come on quickly, and they last for as long as you come in contact with the allergen. Both cause a cough, runny nose, and sneezing, but a cold is more likely to give you aches and pains or a fever.  

Or you could have a sinus infection. Both that and a cold cause pain around your eyes and nose, as well as icky, yellowish mucus. The difference: These symptoms usually happen within the first few days of a cold. But a sinus infection typically shows up after the normal time it takes for a cold to run its course.

5. You’re Taking the Wrong Things for It

We’ve all heard about some of the more popular herbal remedies: Drink this and you’ll never get sick again. Take that and your cold symptoms will be shortened by 3 days. Many of these claims don’t hold water, and it’s important to remember that just because the bottle says "herbal" doesn’t mean it can’t harm you.

Echinacea is one of the first natural treatments people suggest when you have a cold, but most studies show it just doesn’t work.

Many people down vitamin C like candy thinking it’ll speed up the cold process. But there’s little evidence that it helps shorten a cold once you have it. And the only folks it really seems to work for are extreme athletes who take it to prevent getting a cold.

Zinc also gets called out for helping end your cold, but again the evidence is weak. And some people who used a nasal spray with zinc lost their sense of smell. So your best bet is to leave it on the shelf.

It isn’t just natural treatments that don’t work for colds. Antibiotics won’t help either, because a virus causes these illnesses. The best way to treat your cold is to manage the symptoms. Save the antibiotics for strep throat or a sinus infection.

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