New Study: That Nagging Cough of Yours Is Going To Drag On For 18 Days, No Matter How Much Robitussin You Swig

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Seems as though Seattle is crawling with people hacking up a storm. Tis the season, all right, a time when noses run, eyes water, and coughs linger. Trouble is, though, that miserable cough, according to a new study, is going to stick around for at least 18 days -- and all the Cepacol, Claritin or Robitussin in the world ain't going to stop that infernal wheezing.

We know you didn't want to hear this. We realize you thought -- as most people do, as the study stressed -- that the damn cough would be gone in a week -- tops. A little hot and sour soup, a pack of cherry cough drops, and bingo. But no.

The architect of this grim health news is Dr. Mark Ebell, associate professor at the University of George College of Public Health. Edbell decided to conduct the study, published earlier this week in the journal Annals of Family Medicine (click here to read the full report), after noticing public perceptions about how a cold should last compared to how long they actually persist.

The study found that antibiotics are useless against coughs since around 90 percent of coughs are viral, not bacterial.

"A lot of times patients will come to me and they've been coughing for four or five days and they're not getting any better, so they ask for an antibiotic," Ebell said. "After eight or nine days, they're still not feeling better, so they ask for an even stronger antibiotic. Then they'll say, 'The only thing that really works for me is this really strong antibiotic.'"

As NBC News reports, "The trouble is, antibiotics aren't actually the solution for most of the 3 million outpatient cases in the U.S. each year in which cough is the chief complaint, or for the more than 4.5 million outpatient cases diagnosed as acute bronchitis or bronchiolitis.

"More than 90 percent of such cases are viral, not bacterial, which means they won't respond to the drugs most folks request, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."

Enough, already. Pass the Robitussin.

 
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