That notorious cold that "won't go away" probably doesn't exist. Doctors say that those bugs (that seem to have haunted everyone this winter) are actually just you getting sick over and over agains with new infections, probably given to you by someone you share your home with, according to a new look at the science of colds in The Wall Street Journal.
"When you hear people who have the cold that 'won't go away,' those are typically back-to-back infections of which we see a lot of in the cold weather when people are cohorting together," Darilyn Moyer, a physician at Temple University Hospital, told The Wall Street Journal. "Cohorting" is a weird word there, but what they mean here is someone or some people you share your home with and come in contact with— like a husband/wife, child, or an inappropriate roommate.
There are times that a persistent cold can be a symptom of something more serious like bronchitis, pneumonia, or bronchial hyperreactivity, which experts say can almost feel like asthma. If that's the case, a doctor should be consulted.
But let's get back to these back-to-back infections. One of the biggest reasons they occur is because we don't realize that the common cold can last up to two weeks, and coughs can linger up to six weeks. "Experts say it's possible that the carrier of germs—in this case our kindergartner—can infect others without having symptoms himself," The WSJ's Sumathi Reddy explains.
This is disconcerting, but necessary information. Clearly, the solution is to just be forever alone or check yourself into a hotel when the first of your loved ones succumbs to disease. It's every man and woman for themselves.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.