February 7, 2007
You don't have to look at the calendar to know that it's cold season. Odds are if you listen closely in you offices, classrooms, or homes, you can hear the sounds of cold season.
"We've been seeing lots of sick kids and adults, congestion, sore throats for the past month or so," said Dr. Ray Marotta who practices Family Medicine in Albemarle County.
Cold season usually happens just about every year around this time. And often times, the way the cold is spread just might have something to do with a trip you or a family member made over the holidays.
"People who travel over Thanksgiving, Christmas time, typically will come down with something they've been exposed to," explained Marotta.
So now, six weeks later, the cold has had just the right amount of time to make it's way through your office, or your child's classroom, and into your home.
And the cost of colds can add up to as much as $40 billion a year in medical treatment and lost work.
And for over-the-counter cold remedies, Americans shell out $250 million.
As if a nagging cold isn't enough, Marotta said as of early February, the area still hadn't seen flu season yet.
"The flu is a more severe illness. People who have had the flu will frequently tell you that they remember that winter when they got the flu," said the doctor.
The flu will hang on a little longer, and will likely come with aches, chills, and a fever, as well. But the good news is that it is not too late to get a flu shot.
But if you're suffering through a cold of your own right now, Marotta advises patients to hang in there, drink plenty of fluids, and let it run it's course. Typically it will last about a week.
But, Marotta said, "If you're seven to ten days into your cold, and you feel like you're still getting worse, that's the situation where you maybe should touch base with your physician and see if you maybe have a secondary bacterial infection."
And a few final notes: Doubling up on those vitamin tablets can't hurt, but there's no evidence that shows a boost in vitamins will heal a person suffering from a cold any quicker.
And doctors point out that antibiotics are also not effective on colds.