3 Reasons Why Your Cold Symptoms Won’t Go Away
That nagging cough, sore throat or headache often hits right when the weather turns — and then sticks around for months on end. The cold-like symptoms disrupt your sleep, sap your energy and darken under-eye circles so that you pretty much look like you feel: not good.
If you’re avoiding the doctor’s office hoping to get over this “bug” on your own, don’t hold your breath. Chronic cold-like symptoms lasting longer than two weeks could indicate another underlying condition is messing with your immune system. The good news: Proper diagnosis and treatment can help.
The allergy and immunology experts from Allergy & Asthma Specialists provided insight on what’s potentially behind these lingering issues — plus what you need to do to start feeling better ASAP.
The spring pollen season has (thankfully) passed, but the same allergy-induced sniffling, coughing and sneezing can still occur in colder months. More time spent indoors means more time cooped up with irritants like mold, pet dander, dust and insect droppings. Emissions from heating systems, fireplaces and scented candles can also trigger an allergic reaction and send your body into overdrive. These perceived threats cue the release of counterattacking chemicals called histamines. They’re the culprits behind inflammation-induced itchy eyes and a stuffy, runny nose. Let the problem go unchecked long enough and it can evolve into a sinus infection, sore throat, post-nasal drip or persistent coughing — not to mention a lack of sleep from dealing with these disruptive symptoms.
The fix: Reaching for a decongestant at the pharmacy may mitigate some sniffling, but it won’t address the allergy that’s causing your misery in the first place. A board-certified allergist can help identify your triggers and establish an effective treatment plan in as little as one appointment. Sometimes, the fix is as simple as finding the right medication or avoiding the allergen in question.
Reduced Lung Function
If a “chest cold” or chronic cough sticks around for more than two weeks, allergens may have inflamed your lungs, reducing their capacity and hindering your recovery. Colder temps outside can also diminish lung function. These various troublemakers cause your airways to narrow, swell and produce extra mucus. That leads to the not-so-fun result of coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.
The fix: Allergists use specialized tools like a computerized pulmonary function test to measure lung function. Prescription medications should help you breathe fully once again and further tests will ensure your lung function numbers move in the right direction.
Immune System Issues
Immunodeficiencies — or when the immune system struggles to fight infectious diseases — can also mimic cold-like symptoms. Recurrent ear or sinus infections and frequent antibiotic use often indicate something’s up.
The fix: Due to the shared symptoms, allergists study immunology and care for immunodeficient patients. They start by thoroughly assessing your medical history and everyday living environment. Further lab work offers additional clues by measuring the immune components in the blood. By identifying the problem at hand, a medical professional can not only help you feel better now but also protect you from future health problems down the road.
Feel better. Sleep better. Look better. Get to the bottom of your cold-like symptoms by seeing an allergist. Make an appointment with Allergy & Asthma Specialists today. With eight locations to choose from, relief isn’t far away.This is a paid partnership between Allergy & Asthma Specialists ℠ and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio