Have a month-long cold? It's probably not the flu
In this undated file photo, a woman suffers through a cold at home.
Published Tuesday, January 24, 2017 6:19PM EST
Have a persistent cold that lasts for weeks? You’re not alone.
Reports of a “month-long cold” have been making the rounds as Canadians suffer through a particularly nasty flu season.
“The cold season this year does seem to be a little stronger,” pharmacist Adam Somers told CTV Atlantic.
According to the most recent Public Health figures, the number of cases of flu continued to rise in the final weeks of 2016, and it’s unclear when the virus will officially peak. The most common strain this season is A-H3N2, which can cause a particularly nasty form of flu.
The flu typically takes three to seven days to resolve, but symptoms of coughing and fatigue can last up to two weeks, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
But what accounts for flu symptoms that last longer the two weeks? Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer suggests that the answer may have to do with a confluence of several types of virus.
“There’s lots of other viruses that can give you flu-like symptoms but aren’t covered in the influenza vaccine,” Dr. Robert Strang said.
If someone catches another virus on the tail end of their flu, they may continue to experience lasting symptoms of influenza such as exhaustion, sneezing, coughing and congestion.
“You can certainly have persistent symptoms -- still feeling tired, often a persistent cough -- those kinds of things can go on for several weeks afterwards,” Strang said.
The problem is exacerbated by winter conditions. Canadians spend more time indoors during the cold winter months and are more likely to touch the same contaminated surfaces, increasing the likelihood of catching a virus. Drier air indoors also adds to the problem.
It’s a yo-yo phenomenon that can be exhausting in the winter months, when some Canadians are already struggling with feelings of depression and anxiety due to the short days and lack of sunshine.
“It seemed to get better and then it comes back with a vengeance to get you. Mine was in my chest and in my sinuses, and headaches, chills,” one woman told CTV Atlantic.
The flu season typically lingers until around March. Until then, doctors recommend that the best way to guard against getting sick is to get a flu shot and be diligent about washing your hands.
With files from CTV Atlantic