Doctor on lingering cold season: ‘It’s been a long year’

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If you work in an office, chances are it’s a lot like ours: filled with people sniffing, sneezing and coughing.

“It’s awful. It’s the cold that never ends,” said 24 Hour News 8 anchor/reporter Heather Walker.

It’s been four weeks and counting since she came down with her cold. She’s been sipping warm honey water, keeping the tissue close at hand and waiting for relief.

“You can hear it in my voice. No longer [do I have] the runny nose, but I’m definitely drinking water like it’s my job,” Walker added.

‘A LONG YEAR’ FOR DOCTORS

Many cold sufferers end up in a doctor’s office waiting room, including Terry Anes.

“I’ll probably be over it by this weekend, middle of the week maybe,” Anes said Tuesday.

Usually, by this time of year Michigan is through the major part of cold season. But this year seems to be different.

“It’s been a long year – lots of upper respiratory infections,” said Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen with Family Medicine Specialists in Walker.

VanWingen said while it may appear the colds are lingering longer, in most cases, the actual virus runs its course and is gone in a week or so. He said it’s the after effects that continue.

“Sometimes, while the infections may be gone, the symptoms can linger such as cough, and the runny nose,” explained VanWingen.

HOW TO TREAT IT

Over-the-counter medicines can alleviate symptoms of a cold, but when it comes to the actual virus, suffers will have to wait it out – medication won’t have any effect.

While most people are able to eventually kick their sickness, there are some symptoms to watch out for, including high fever and shortness of breath. People experiencing these issues should see a doctor immediately.

“A virus may creep in with a cold and then a secondary infection, like a sinus infection or bronchitis or maybe even pneumonia can creep in atop that,” explained VanWingen.

His top tip to ward off the illness: “Wash your hands. Wash your hands, West Michigan!”

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