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Dr. Andrew Rynne

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Suggest treatment for persistent cold

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Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 2850 Questions

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Posted on Wed, 8 Mar 2017 in Lung and Chest disorders
Question: Question - I have a spouse who seems to regularly get sick from December to March - for the past 6 years. She will get a "cold" which then progresses to her lungs and makes a mess! She simply coughs and coughs for the entire winter - can't sleep and can't function well. The first (4) years were spent in XXXXXXX WA and the last (2) years in New Orleans, LA. She has had many tests already performed - CT of sinuses (looked good), pulmonary function test (MD indicated she has the lung capacity of a marathon runner). For treatment - she takes Guaifenesin and Sudafed to try to loosen the phlegm and treat the cold. But this does not seem to be very effective.

We have consulted (2) ENTs and (2) Pulmonogists who have said, "Well, you have reactive lungs - they really don't like when you get a cold". But this is becoming a "quality of life" issue where she spends weeks functioning at a bare minimum.

Are there additional tests, potential treatments, anything that could possibly help?
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Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
Thoughts on this:

Detailed Answer:
Hello XXXX,

I read through your wife's history, and here are some of my thoughts:

Has she seen an allergist? The months you indicated she is sick would be months when I imagine your house would be closed up and so indoor air quality can go down. If there is a low level allergy, that might be contributing to her increased chance of getting and keeping an infection. Keeping pets out of the bedroom and using dust mite barrier covers might help if allergies are a contributing factor.

Another thought is about possible reactivity to molds. XXXXXXX and New Orleans are both damp places. Cleaning any signs of mold and keeping the house dry might be a consideration.

An evaluation of her immune system including a CBC with differential, thyroid panel, blood sugar, might be a consideration if not done already.

Finally - some tips on not getting the "cold" that starts it off:
I learned, during medical school, during my pediatric rotation (when students are likely to get sick!) to not touch eyes or nose with fingers. Always use a tissue for an itchy eye or nose, and be careful to only use the part of the tissue that your fingers weren't touching. This takes some time to train yourself to not just rub your eye with the back of your hand when it is itchy. (It's ok to give your eyes a rub with the hands if you just washed your hands and touched nothing else since.) After coming home, always wash your hands thoroughly with regular soap and water for at least 30 seconds. If you have been at work or anywhere you may have touched your face without realizing it, wash your face, too, when you come home. In public restrooms, after washing your hands, do not touch the faucet: use a paper towel or tissue to do so.

This is anecdotal medicine, but some people benefit from high doses of vitamin C (500 - 1000 mg) and Zinc (15 mg) one to two times per day used when they first feel they may be coming down with a cold. And continue it for the first 2-3 days. There is inadequate research to support doing this, but for some people (including myself), it can make a difference. In addition, using an alcohol based mouthwash in the first night or two can help too. Get more sleep prior to and at the beginning of menstrual periods (and for some women, around ovulation too).

I sure hope some of this helps. I am truly sorry her infections have become so disabling.
Regards

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Arnab Banerjee
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