How long should coughs and runny noses last?

The Pediatric Insider

© 2013 Roy Benaroch, MD

Many sick visits to primary care docs, like me, are driven by just a handful of complaints, all typically caused by viral upper respiratory infections (URIs): cough, congestion, and runny noses. How long should parents expect ordinary cold symptoms to last?

Longer than you’d think.

The British Medical Journal this month published a wonderful article, titled “Duration of symptoms of respiratory tract infections in children: systematic review.  They found 48 studies of the symptoms of URIs which included systematic tracking of system duration. Only placebos or over-the-counter remedies were included—they did not include any patients treated with antibiotics. From pooling the information from all of these studies, they found that:

  • Cough usually lasted at least 10 days (that is, 50% of kids with cough were still coughing after day 10). Cough resolved in 90% of patients by day 25—meaning that 1 in 10 children were still coughing at day 26, almost 4 weeks after the start of the cold.
  • Common cold nasal symptoms resolved by day 10 in 50% of children. 90% were better by day 15.

So: ordinary colds, just ordinary viruses we all get, cause symptoms that typically last a couple of weeks, with the cough often lingering even longer. The old joke ought to be rewritten: without this prescription, your cold will last two weeks. With it, it’ll only last 14 days.

If you or your child has an icky cold, you might be tempted to see your doctor after a few days or a week. It’s probably better to wait longer—save yourself a visit, and you’ll be less likely to end up on an antibiotic that won’t do you any good anyway.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Guilt Free Parenting, Pediatric Insider information

Tags: , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

3 Comments on “How long should coughs and runny noses last?”

  1. CATT Says:

    If taken care of properly a cold can be nipped in the bud within 3 or 4 days.

    Like

  2. KyleB Says:

    @CATT, ok, I’ll bite. What is the proper way to care for a cold to shorten symptom duration to 3 days?

    Like

  3. CATT Says:

    I have used Echinacea tincture as well as Vit D3, Quercitin and Vitamin C. Taking several dropperfuls of the Echinacea tincture every waking hour until symptoms dissipate. Also, increasing D3 to 10,000mg. This along with juicing. It has often been less than 3 days. I have also gotten rid of bad cases of Flu within half a day. I have also gotten rid of Pneumonia by breathing Tea tree oil vapors in boiling water.

    Like


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: