Science, you are not giving us a lot to work with here. Vitamin C won’t help us fight off a cold, apparently. Neither will Vitamin D, it turns out. Presumably all the other vitamins are equally useless. And now antibiotics are definitely out:

A new study shows that although most people think a cough ought to last no more than a week or so, the duration of the most annoying symptom of winter illness is about 18 days — and could be more than three weeks.

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.

This fatalistic attitude is not helping. You gotta give us something to believe in. I haven’t been able to breathe out of my nose for four days. Four days! How much longer will this madness continue?

When he surveyed nearly 500 Georgia residents by phone, he found that they predicted that a cough would last between five days and nine days, but generally about a week, depending on the scenario.

A review of 19 published medical studies, however, revealed that the mean duration of any cough was 17.8 days, with a range of 15.3 to 28.6 days.

28.6 days. 28.6 days. Look, I don’t want to contribute to antibiotic-resistant disease any more than the next person, but if I have to live with this for another 24 days I am going to take every drug I can find in the nearest pharmacy and just hope for the best, or for distracting side effects.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]