Has this been an unusually terrible year for colds?
September 7, 2016 6:56 AM   Subscribe

I have had a cold for 12 days now. This is the third time this year I have had an almost two-week long cold like this. I can't remember it ever happening before this year.

Everyone else in the house has been getting these ultra-long colds too so it is not just me. But I can't remember ever having a cold that lasted more than a week before this year. In fact I used to think one week was a long one!

Is this just a terrible year for colds? (I am in the SF Bay area). Are other people also getting unusually bad colds this year?

Or is it normal to start getting longer-lasting (in addition to just more frequent) colds after having kids? Are we reinfecting each other or something? (I thought that was impossible). My youngest is three so I am still getting used to being sick all the time instead of only getting a cold every other year.
posted by insoluble uncertainty to Health & Fitness (23 answers total)
Average duration of a cold is 7-10 days, so I think maybe you've just gotten lucky in the past, or you're seeing a larger selection of colds now that you have kids and kid germs in your life, or stress and lack of sleep/self-care is stopping you from clearing them as quickly.
posted by mskyle at 7:08 AM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: Not data, just anecdotes, but we've been getting crushed by long colds this year too, especially my wife and eldest daughter, who are in week two of an absolute ass-kicker right now.
posted by saladin at 7:15 AM on September 7, 2016

This is the first year since having kids that we *haven't* had colds, at all, for so long now I can't remember when any of us has had a cold.

But, yes, sickness does *seem* increase when you have kids, generally, likely due to more germs. I went 15 years without even a sniffle (let alone real sickness), but since having kids, I am sick more often than not. It does seem to be getting better, though.
posted by TinWhistle at 7:17 AM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: Anecdotally, it's been a terrible year for colds around here. The cold I'm recovering from knocked me out for far longer than they usually do, despite plenty of rest, and I'm hearing similar things from others.

A lifetime of getting colds has taught me that some are worse than others - I once had some kind of respiratory thing that was basically a jumped up cold that left me - once I was over the bulk of the symptoms - too weak to walk more than a couple of blocks or stand for more than five minutes. It took a couple of weeks to get back to baseline. And that was when I was young and in my prime.
posted by Frowner at 7:18 AM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: I'm in the area and while I haven't gotten any colds, I'll add to your viral anecdata by sharing that I got influenza for the first time in at least the 15 years I have been living here.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 7:40 AM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: I had a cold that lasted two weeks this summer, and I actually bruised/fractured some ribs because I coughed so much.
posted by amro at 7:58 AM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I too live in the area and haven't had colds, but I will say that as I've entered my 30s my colds started lingering a bit more--the active component ends in a few days, as usual for me, but they linger in my chest for longer. Being on Flonase (daily nasal allergy med) has also changed the way my colds progress.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:01 AM on September 7, 2016

Another possibility: I never used to have seasonal allergies, but when I hit 35 or so I started getting these two week long colds every spring and fall. Then I realized that, oooohhhh, this is why people complain about pollen season. Now I start take Zyrtec from mid-August until first frost, and from first thaw until May.

There may have been a hormonal component, but this started a few years before I had my first child.
posted by Kriesa at 8:08 AM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: Colds/sickness have been especially intense around here (northern CA). I had the flu for only 5 days, but was knocked on my butt with a fever/exhaustion and couldn't even go to work. I haven't missed an entire week of work for an illness since 2005. I don't mess around anymore - I used to go to work sick, but one cold was so bad that it left me with respiratory issues that turned into asthma, permanently. Now I stay home if I feel something coming on. I have no doubt that the extra rest is worth it, it's better to take a day and feel better than to push myself and be sick.

It seems that every year, I hear people say it's worse than the last, but this year seems especially bad in my experience.
posted by onecircleaday at 8:20 AM on September 7, 2016

Interestingly enough this is the first year where I am not sick constantly in something like 3 years. I chalk it up to less stress and correcting a lot of health issues that were killing my immune system.
posted by Young Kullervo at 8:31 AM on September 7, 2016

I'm on my fourth cold this year. I didn't get colds, like, ever -- UNTIL my son started going to preschool. Since then, we get colds that go around in our family pretty frequently. I'm pretty sure my son is coming down with his second cold since starting kindergarten 3 weeks ago. So, yeah, definitely kids are a factor.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 8:42 AM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I know a lot of people who have never had allergies before beginning to suffer from allergies in the last few years. So maybe it's an air quality issue and you are suffering from allergies instead of a cold?
posted by greta simone at 8:46 AM on September 7, 2016

Young kids in school/childcare is famously good for getting infected with everything. As are untreated allergies, which create lots of extra mucus and irritate nasal and throat tissues. The combination makes a perfect incubation area for viruses that you'd otherwise fight off. If I don't aggressively manage my allergy-caused post nasal drip, I know I'll likely get a cold virus within a day or two.
posted by quince at 9:29 AM on September 7, 2016

Since having kids, we seem to have something like two good years, one year where we catch everything. I have theories about the trifecta (kids in their environment, stress of having to juggle work and sick kids, getting run down in general as the germs come in on top of the germs before) but really just saying...for our family this happens, it sucks, but it doesn't last forever.

Hope you feel better soon!
posted by warriorqueen at 9:38 AM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: I've been coughing for 5 weeks after a trip to NYC. Everything is fine, and this has never happened to me before. Mr. Getawaysticks had it for a few weeks too.
posted by getawaysticks at 10:18 AM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: After a few years of mild, easily explainable colds (like, sniffles after interacting with kids or coming back from a wild vacation) I have been suddenly struck with 2-3 awful colds this season for no particular reason. FWIW I'm in my mid-twenties, no kids, not a particularly stressful lifestyle, so idk. Might be the allergies thing.
posted by btfreek at 10:33 AM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: Anecdotal, but my brother's entire family has been down for most of a week plus. They have school age kids and get the usual colds, but haven't had anything this intense recently. This is in Houston.
posted by MsMolly at 12:44 PM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: I had a cold last winter that hung on for weeks. I mentioned it to my GP and he said that yeah, whatever bug was making the rounds was pretty long lived.
posted by peppermind at 1:10 PM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: I rarely get colds and when I do they're minor--but 2 weeks ago I got one that hit me so hard that I'm still not back to normal. There's definitely a very rough strain going around. I'm in my early 50s and can't remember ever being hit this hard with a cold.
posted by bookmammal at 5:19 PM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: I had horrid colds this year until I started a new allergy treatment (nose sprays, so undignified but so effective). Kiddo has not had as much luck and spent six weeks sick on and off, and I figure there is probably at least one more round to go before summer. But from Aus, the winter colds and flus seem brutal this year, along with allergies.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:00 PM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: I've had a few long colds this year. One last literally months before the coughing abated. Part of that is that I'm asthmatic and prone to coughing anyway, but when I complained to my doctor, she said she'd been seeing a lot of really long colds and that it would eventually work its way out. So, I'm not sure if second hand observational anecdotes from a medical professional are better or worse than a single first hand anecdote, but that's my contribution to the anecdata -- my colds have been brutal, and my doctor said that was totes normal this year. I'm in Toronto, though I got some of the colds in Vancouver.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:04 PM on September 7, 2016

Best answer: FWIW I'm in the Bay Area and have had more and worse colds this year than any other year. My employees have as well. I've been attributing it all to the fact that one of them has a toddler-aged son in day care and we're all sharing the germs.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 9:13 PM on September 7, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for all the responses! It helps to know that we're not the only ones getting slammed this year, and I am also happy to hear that having kids doesn't mean that all our colds will now last for two weeks.
posted by insoluble uncertainty at 8:27 PM on September 8, 2016

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