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Common Cold has $40 Billion Annual Price Tag
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The common cold costs the U.S. economy $40 billion a year - an amount that's substantially higher than what is spent on other conditions such as asthma, heart failure and emphysema. Missed days from school and work, visits to the doctor and over-the-counter and prescription medications account for the majority of costs.

To investigate the impact of the cold, researchers conducted a nationwide telephone survey of over 4,000 households to find out how many people had colds as well as what methods people used to treat them.

Close to three-quarters of people surveyed said they had had a cold within the last year, and the average respondent had two to three colds per year. According to researchers, the cold is the most commonly occurring illness in humans, with about 500 million occurring each year in the United States alone.

Although antibiotics have no effect on the viruses that cause colds, the study found that about 41 million antibiotic prescriptions are written for cold sufferers each year at a cost of $1.1 billion. Further, Americans spend $2.9 billion on over-the-counter drugs and $400 million on prescription drugs for relief of symptoms.

Researchers found that there are more than 100 million doctors visits for colds each year, at an estimated cost of $7.7 billion annually, and another 6 million visits to the emergency room. More than one-third of patients who visited a doctor for a cold received a prescription, a pattern that is likely contributing to the increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance in America.

Data also indicated that about 189 million school days are missed because of colds each year, which causes parents to miss 126 million workdays in order to take care of their children at home. This, in addition to the number of workdays missed by adult cold-sufferers, adds up to more than $20 billion in cold-related work loss each year.

Much of the costs for colds are due to misconceptions about causes, treatments and prevention of colds. According to a separate survey of 261 families with at least one young child in out-of-home childcare, nearly all of the 197 families who responded knew that viruses cause colds. However, more than half thought antibiotics are needed to treat them. Also, close to two-thirds of respondents said they'd take their child to a doctor for a cold, and close to one-quarter said they'd take their child to the emergency room, despite the fact that common colds will get better without a doctor's visit.

There is currently no cure for the common cold, but researchers note that an effective treatment or preventative measure for the cold would have great economical impact.
Archives of Internal Medicine February 24, 2003;163(4):487-94
USA Today February 24, 2003


DR. MERCOLA'S COMMENT:

You can be proactive and not only prevent the most common infection in the United States, the common cold, but also save yourself real money if you happen to come down with one.

On the average, every person in the United States has about two colds a year; that's right, half a billion colds occur every year in the United States and cost many of us our hard-earned income and time while we reap the consequences of not following an optimal health program.

First of all, it is important to understand the causes of colds. Most people believe that colds are caused by bacteria, but this, of course, is not correct. Colds are triggered by viruses, and using antibiotics to treat a viral infection is an exercise in futility as it will never work. Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and have entirely different structures that make them impervious to antibiotics.

Occasionally antibiotics are required if there is a secondary bacterial sinus infection or bronchitis/pneumonia, but this is the rare exception.

However, it is important to recognize that although the virus actually triggers the cold symptoms, it is in no way, shape or form the "cause" of the cold. Believing that a virus "causes" a cold is a very dangerous perspective to take for once you allow external forces to "control" your health, you lose the ability to improve it. Taking responsibility for your own health is vitally important here.

So what is the real cause of colds?

The simple and short answer is an impairment in your immune system. There are many ways this can result, but the more common contributing factors are:

1. Eating too much sugar and too many grains
2. Not getting enough rest
3. Using insufficient strategies to address emotional stressors in your life
4. Any combination of the above

The first approach to avoiding colds is to be careful and avoid food choices that will sabotage your health. You simply cannot eat sugar if you are sick as this is asking for a health disaster. If you are stressed please consider EFT, which is an amazingly effective tool to address the foundational core reasons as to how the stress is impairing your immune system.

If, for whatever reason, you have come down with a cold, my personal recommendation is to use the safe and inexpensive hydrogen peroxide ear flush described below. I am constantly amazed at how effective this treatment is. It is one of the first things we tell our patients to do when they call our office with cold symptoms.

You can also use zinc lozenges. I have been using zinc in my practice for over 15 years, far before it was popular. When using zinc lozenges it is important to recognize that they need to be sucked on, NOT swallowed, and smaller doses taken more frequently seem to work better. I usually advise patients to suck on a quarter lozenge every 30 minutes. If started early, this approach seems to work well for the majority of patients.

One caution should be heeded though: if the lozenges make you nauseous they should be stopped immediately as this is a sign of zinc toxicity.
Dr Mercola's web-site and free newsletter are at www.mercola.com