by Stewart B. Segal, MD
A HORRIBLE, ROTTEN COLD
You would think that a doctor would know better than to get a cold! This is day four and I’m miserable. I was fine six days ago. I did everything right. I eat well (maybe too good), sleep well. OK, I’m not currently exercising. Despite all of my knowledge and proper living, I got sick.
Just like everyone else, I want a pill to make it go away. Unlike everyone else, I know it’s a virus and has to run its course. On average, viruses take seven days to go away if you don’t take an antibiotic and one week to go away if your doctor gives in to you and gives you an antibiotic.
So what do you do? I recommend taking Cold-Eze early in the course of the illness to try to prevent getting worse. There is some evidence that large amounts of zinc help ward off the common cold. I used Cold-Eze and got worse. I recommend drinking large amounts of fluids, using Mucinex and Simply Saline. Mucous is your enemy. It clots air passages and gives shelter to the virus. Mucolytics and saline help clear mucous. They are helping but I am still miserable. I am resting when I can but nasal congestion and cough make resting difficult. Please notice that I am not taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen. I do not want to stifle the fever. Low grade fevers are my body’s attempt to burn out the virus that is attacking me.
Today is day four so I went to the doctor to run some tests. The tests confirm that I have a virus. I knew I did but it is wise to seek medical attention as your illness progresses. Even a doctor needs a doctor to confirm the source of an illness and appropriate treatment options. Viruses can be much worse than bacterial infections. When a bacteria strikes, antibiotics can help your body kill it. When a virus strikes, your body has to kill it.
Sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, upper respiratory tract infections, pharyngitis, and tonsillitis are all names that describe the location of an infection. Viruses, bacteria and mycoplasms are organisms that cause infections. When you are sick, you want to know two things. First, where is the infection? Location is everything! Location helps decide how harmful the illness can become. Second, you need to know what organism is causing the infection. If it’s the dread “strep”, antibiotics will rapidly eradicate it. If it is the dread “cold virus”, you are going to have a horrible, rotten cold. On average, it will last seven days. For me, four days and counting.