What Should I Do About a Cold That Won't Go Away?

2 answers | Last updated: Nov 01, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What should I do about a cold that won't go away?

Expert Answers

Dr. Leslie Kernisan is the author of a popular blog and podcast at BetterHealthWhileAging.net. She is also a clinical instructor in the University of California, San Francisco, Division of Geriatrics.

Assuming you don't have danger signs that suggest you have the flu, most colds can be treated with rest at home. (The symptoms of flu are fever, cough, and sore throat, usually with accompanying body aches, chills, and fatigue. You may also have a headache or runny nose. Some people also have diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms can last from a few days to up to a week or more.)

Colds are tough to cure, and the best treatment for a cold is usually rest. In general, you just have to weather the symptoms. Although most colds last for about a week, some last for up to two weeks. Colds can also cause irritation in the lungs (in medicalese, rhinovirus-induced changes in airway reactivity) that can last for up to four weeks.

If you've had cold symptoms for more than two weeks, it's reasonable to contact your health provider for additional advice -- a small minority of colds can lead to a subsequent bacterial infection, such as sinusitis or pneumonia.

Community Answers

Home doc answered...

Good expert answer by Dr. Leslie. However, I would add 'Steam Inhalation' to shorten the course of a cold. It REALLY helps and several otherwise longer colds have been cut short. For sore throat colds, warm water gargles also help a lot.