Cold virus has doctor's offices and noses stuffed!

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Instead of waiting in line for Santa this Christmas season, many in Region 8 are waiting to get checked out by the doctor...leaving folks decking the halls with tissues and cold medicine.

"We have noticed quite an increase in our patient numbers," says AHEC Assistant Professor of Medicine Doctor Shane Speights. He says the past several weeks the waiting room has been busy. "Everything from low grade fever, cough, losing your voice, congestion, sore throat," he says.

But, so far Speights says it hasn't been the flu. "The vast majority of these are just the typical cold symptoms. Remember there's two hundred viruses that can cause the common cold."

So keep the tissues handy. Speights says the cold virus often leaves people coughing and miserable for up to ten days. "Most people think if I could just get an antibiotic or a Z-pack I would feel better. In reality, that doesn't help at all. Antibiotics don't work against viruses. Viruses just have to fun its course," says Speights.

But how do you keep the "cold" Grinch from stealing your holiday cheer? "Wash your hands...use hand sanitizer," says Speights, and try to stay out of crowds, even though around this time of year...it's hard to do.

"Those of you that have been to the mall and been to Walmart know, there's no way to stay away from people. Some of the places I think do the best they can by using the hand sanitizer, using the wipes on the shopping carts, those can help reduce the spread of the virus," says Speights.

Doctor Speights says if the cold does linger for more than ten days, then you should see a doctor. It could be something more serious.

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