How can I stop this recurring cold?
March 11, 2010 9:12 AM   Subscribe

I get a cold every 3-4 months. Runny then stuffy nose, dry throat, maybe a little coughing, low energy, mild headache. Just a run-of-the-mill cold, but it keeps recurring, and it's driving me nuts.

I get a cold every 3-4 months. Runny then stuffy nose, dry throat, maybe a little coughing, low energy, mild headache. Just a run-of-the-mill cold, but it keeps recurring, and it's driving me nuts. I'm in fairly good shape, eat well, don't take a multivitamin. Is there anything I can and should do to ward this off? There's got to be some way to stop it.
posted by Slinga to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
How often and how well do you wash your hands? Are you in the habit of touching your face? Keeping germs out of your face is one of the most important factors in preventing these sorts of illnesses.
posted by decathecting at 9:16 AM on March 11, 2010

Try washing your hands more often, or using sterilizer? I'm randomly guessing you may have children, and when they go to school pick up all sorts of nasties, bring them home, then you get sick. Other than that, look into foods and vitamins to boost your immune system, a quick google search will bring-up more info on that front.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 9:18 AM on March 11, 2010

You may have a sinus infection that your body can't fight off entirely. Go see your doc for a diagnosis, and if that's the case, you'll need a round of antibiotics.
posted by annathea at 9:21 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I got this for a couple of years, and it turned out that I had developed allergies without knowing it, and those allergens were cropping up every so often in the environment. Try taking an OTC allergy pill for a couple of days during your cold to see - for me it cleared things up entirely.
posted by pocams at 9:23 AM on March 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

For me, getting enough sleep is the best way to prevent illness.
posted by puritycontrol at 9:27 AM on March 11, 2010

I have the recurring runny nose. I suspect that it's allergies or a chronic sinus infection, not a virus. If it were a virus, everybody would be going through the same cycle. You wouldn't be catching the same one multiple times. I think a doc visit is the best way to figure it out, just haven't got to it yet.
posted by klanawa at 9:34 AM on March 11, 2010

Do you work with kids?
posted by Think_Long at 9:38 AM on March 11, 2010

I agree with pocams that it may be allergies. The symptoms you describe certainly match up.
posted by mkultra at 9:40 AM on March 11, 2010

1. Exercise. Since I started commuting to work by bike, I haven't gotten a single cold.

2. Wash your hands frequently and use a paper towel to open the bathroom door afterward.

3. Get enough sleep.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:42 AM on March 11, 2010

I had this. For years I was catching something every other month. I finally stopped touching my face and rarely get sick. I also store hand sanitizer in my car and use it after the bank, grocery store, etc., just in case I do touch my face. It sounds so silly, but there is a huge amount of truth to it. I was amazed.
posted by Vaike at 9:43 AM on March 11, 2010

Could be seasonal allergies. All of those symptoms fit. Allergies can stick around, and have an infection party up in your sinuses. I'm being a bit of a broken record here on Ask, but a cheap daily non-drowsy allergy pill has transformed the lives of many.

When my mom was starting out as a pediatric nurse she got colds left and right. Eventually she saw an ENT for chronic sinus infections and had her sinuses "reamed out" and it has helped her greatly. As a bit of a pay off for 4-6 months of constant colds and that painful procedure, she now has the immunity of a god.

If you couldn't tell by my use of the phrase "infection party" I'm not exactly an MD. Your Dr should listen to your complaints and take them seriously, or find a new one.
posted by fontophilic at 9:46 AM on March 11, 2010

I came to suggest you evaluate whether allergies are playing a role in this. For many people, the changing of seasons, every season, results in allergy symptoms. Those symptoms can vary widely from person to person, but for me they often include a headache, sinus inflammation, a runny nose and/or congestion and lots of sneezing and coughing. I find that these problems often last a week or two and then ease off, and are sometimes more serious than others. Sometimes, it seems as if the inflammation and congestion lead to either a more serious sinus infection (though I have had chronic sinus inflammation for years) or middle-ear problems. When seasons change, I take a zyrtec or a claritin every day for 2 weeks or so, and it helps a lot.
posted by bunnycup at 9:47 AM on March 11, 2010

I'm going to second annathea's recommendation of a possible infection. From your symptoms I'd suggest googling chronic sinusitis or recurrent sinusitis and see if that matches up to what you've been experiencing.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:11 AM on March 11, 2010

Nthing allergies. I had this same problem and it eventually developed into sinus infections every 3-4 months. I was tested, got allergy shots and now I take an allergy med every day. I haven't had a cold in two years. See an ENT or an allergist, don't just start taking random meds. You have no idea if you're allergic to anything, first of all, and secondly, a daily med might not be your best option. A doctor will be able to help you through this.
posted by cooker girl at 10:23 AM on March 11, 2010

Look into Vitamin D deficiency. This happened to my sister.
posted by bunny hugger at 10:30 AM on March 11, 2010

nthing allergies. Do you have a cat?
posted by jabberjaw at 10:32 AM on March 11, 2010

Two things I would HIGHLY recommend:
1) "Dr. Hana's Nasopure" nasal wash. It is like a Neti Pot only MUCH easier to use, much more convenient, and more effective if you use her salt cleanser which, because it is buffered, you can use much higher dose without any burning.
2. Take Astragalus capsules one per day. I started doing this when I was going through something similar a few years ago and there was a shortage of flu vaccine. It is an ancient and much studied tonic that boosts immune function. There are no side effect concerns or contraindications (other than no immune boosters should be used by anyone with auto immune disorders unless under doctor supervision) that I have ever uncovered via research i've done. I did have an acupuncturist tell me that there is a school of thought that one should stop taking a tonic while/if one is actually sick (it can theoretically "tonify" the infection making it stronger?) but the purpose is to take it as a prevention. I take one a day all flu season and find that I go several years without getting sick and if I do get a cold it is much milder than I used to experience when I got them several times a year. They are inexpensive and easy to find at health food stores. I use the Whole Foods store brand but there are many brands to choose from.
posted by Lylo at 10:34 AM on March 11, 2010

I got a neti pot a few days ago after a couple weeks of having a constantly stuffed nose which I believe started as allergies but then seemed to turn into a sinus infection. It hasn't entirely gone away yet, but has gotten much better. Plus I find the nasal flushing quite enjoyable. Having warm salty water running out my nose reminds me of the ocean.
posted by Jawn at 2:06 PM on March 11, 2010

I had this for over a year; then I moved out of the apartment I was in and it vanished. It could have been an allergy but I vote mold, which can cause allergy-like symptoms in its own right, and also exacerbate existing allergies.
posted by Beardman at 3:18 PM on March 11, 2010

No cat, no kids, but I do work at a grocery store, so I'm in contact with a lot of the public. I will schedule a doctor's appointment and look into both the allergy possibility and the recurring sinus infection possibility. I greatly appreciate the assistance from folks.
posted by Slinga at 6:39 PM on March 11, 2010

Make sure you stay warm enough while sleeping, so you don't wake up feeling cold - which seems to depress my immune system enough, alas.
posted by ahaynes at 11:01 AM on March 12, 2010

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