The cold is gone but the symptoms remain and are MAKING ME CRAZY.
May 22, 2010 9:37 AM   Subscribe

How can I get rid of this lingering congestion and cough?

Gross details ahead, sorry.

I contracted a mild cold about three weeks ago: started with a sore throat, general malaise; that went away in a couple of days, but since then I've been fighting the non-stop runny nose and cough.

I produce what seems like a never-ending supply of snot, and have an intermittent cough that I can't get rid of. I've used Amazon rainforests worth of tissue, purchased enough Sudafed that I'm afraid I'm going to hit the limit and be prohibited from buying any more (but it's the only thing that works even a little bit), and have to keep a pocket full of cough drops in case I start choking to death in a meeting or something.

The cough goes back and forth between a phlegmy hack and a dry tickling deep in my throat that makes me cough like I have TB. When I blow my nose in the morning it's yellowish but clear for the rest of the day (sorry, but I know that may be important).

A work friend recommended trying a neti pot...but to be honest, those things look like waterboarding to me and I'm afraid I'd drown myself.

I feel fine otherwise, though! My husband said that my leftover symptoms seem like allergies, and we've had record pollen here, but I've never, ever had allergy problems. Could having a cold trigger allergies?

Please help me stay sane, MeFi. Is there any way to get rid of this? I don't want to go to a doctor if, as I suspect, she will just say, "Oh, you have a cold; it will go away on its own."!
posted by TochterAusElysium to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I am not a doctor, certainly not your doctor, but I have found that over-the-counter Mucinex (and generic equivalents with guaifenesin, its active ingredient) helps keep things clearer.

If that doesn't help, and if the symptoms aren't going away, it really can't hurt to see a doctor or an ENT.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:18 AM on May 22, 2010

Best answer: Sounds like we've both got variants of the same thing. I recommend acceptance. Your body's working through something. Trust it.

That said, this will make you feel a little better:

- boil some water
- pour into a cup with some chopped up raw ginger (as much as you can handle)
- add some lemon juice
- add a touch of Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper (as much as you can handle)

I'm drinking this concoction pretty much all day. Come cocktail hour, add some rum. Enjoy.
posted by philip-random at 10:19 AM on May 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Neti pots are surprisingly not like drowning yourself - I don't find them unpleasant at all, and I'd rather expected to. They're not going to do much for a cough though, just sinus congestion. For the cough I'd agree with BP that you should try using an expectorant like guaifenesin for a few days.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:21 AM on May 22, 2010

Best answer: I had a cough/post-nasal drip/sinus congestion thing going on for a few weeks. My doctor prescribed antibiotics for something else entirely (I hadn't complained to him about the cough and congestion b'c I thought it was just the stubborn tail end of a head cold). Within the first two days of taking the antibiotics, the congestion and cough were gone. They haven't returned.

It's anecdotal, but perhaps you should ask a doctor about whether antibiotics are needed.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 10:28 AM on May 22, 2010

Best answer: I had the same experience as LOLAttorney only I had asked my GP about the cough and constant phlegm, many times, and the best he would give me was steroid nasal spray. I tried a neti pot, I tried anti-histamine on the theory it was allergies, nothing worked.

Finally, after suffering almost THREE MONTHS of this insane host of respiratory problems, and seeing an ENT who wanted to burn my turbinates off, I got some antibiotics, and in three days I was 95% better.

Really, if this has gone on for weeks, it's not responding to other meds, and you've never had any seasonal symptoms before, and it only happened after a bad cold, I would guess the cold opened the gates for a sinus infection and you should consider antibiotics.
posted by slow graffiti at 10:56 AM on May 22, 2010

Response by poster: I guess that's what I needed to hear. I'll try the doc...and that crazy drink philip-random recommended, because I really need to know what the heck that tastes like. Thanks all!!
posted by TochterAusElysium at 11:19 AM on May 22, 2010

I just wanted to add what was already said about neti pots. Despite numerous recommendations, I refused to try one for years out of the same concerns you have. But during a horrible sinus infection last year I was desperately out of options. To my surprise, it was NOT awful. It DOES NOT give you that nasty water-up-the-nose feeling.
posted by ellenaim at 11:41 AM on May 22, 2010

That being said, this thread has convinced me that I should call my doc on Monday. I had to do a double-take to make sure *I* hadn't written this question. I've had the exact same problem for 3 weeks and not even the neti pot has helped. (though I still think you should try it!)
posted by ellenaim at 11:45 AM on May 22, 2010

Response by poster: Good luck, ellenaim. Maybe I'll try the neti pot someday...I suppose I could find a video of someone using it online; that would help convince me. Feel better!
posted by TochterAusElysium at 1:58 PM on May 22, 2010

Last month I had almost the same thing, minus the runny nose- I just had the sore throat that quickly turned into a three week long cough. Same type of coughing too; sometimes productive, other times just hacking until I was doubled over. And I felt fine otherwise.

I did go to the doctor and she shrugged and said I've got a lingering virus. She told me to take Aleve, which surprisingly stopped the cough (and helped my sore back recover from all the hacking). Something about how it reduces inflammation and helps stop the cycle of irritation - coughing - more irritation - more coughing. She said Mucinex and Aleve are the only two drugs that really make a difference with coughs.

I also started sleeping with a humidifier on, and that also helped.
posted by castlebravo at 2:54 PM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

We had the same thing - lingered for weeks and weeks. I finally busted into my stash of Mexican farmacia antibiotics - the cold was gone in 2 days. Mr. 26.2 decided to tap the antibiotico supply. His cold disappeared too.

I'm not one to use antibiotics when they aren't going to do any good, but after weeks of coughing I was willing to try anything. I know at least 5 people with the same story. Maybe this year's virus wasn't viral at all.
posted by 26.2 at 11:09 PM on May 22, 2010

Response by poster: Followup: Yes, the doctor prescribed antibiotics and by the end of the week I was back to about 90% of normal. A tiny bit of snuffliness is still hanging on, but I feel SO much better. Thank you all!!
posted by TochterAusElysium at 5:04 PM on June 4, 2010

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