It’s not COVID or the flu. If you’ve been sick for weeks and tested negative for everything, find out what might be going on.

The holiday season often comes with an uptick in respiratory illnesses. Experts report a current widespread, hacking cough lasting weeks – but it’s not the flu or COVID.

Doctors think it’s likely caused by common cold viruses like rhinovirus or adenovirus. After entering your airways, they replicate and trigger inflammation that lingers even after the virus clears. Prolonged irritation keeps producing mucus and tightening airways, leading to persistent coughs.

While annoying, it seems more a product of our body’s defenses rather than a new, concerning virus. The best remedy is rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications to ease symptoms. With self-care, most find relief within a month or two.

The key is avoiding complications and preventing spread to others through good hygiene. Wash hands frequently, cover coughs, and consider masking up around vulnerable loved ones. With care and patience, we can weather this viral wave together!

How long are you contagious if you’re coughing for weeks?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly. You become highly contagious about 24 hours before symptoms start. This peaks for several days, then declines – but you can still spread it for around 5-7 days total.

COVID taught us contagiousness drops dramatically after 10 days. But some folks stay infectious longer, especially those immunocompromised. They may shed viruses for months when asymptomatic.

The key is avoiding contact during your most contagious period, especially with vulnerable loved ones. Be vigilant with hand washing, masking if needed, and staying home when sick. With care, we can protect one another, even if coughing lingers.

How to treat your cough

If cough and other symptoms persist, first test for COVID and flu – they’re on the rise too. Treatment is available if positive.

If negative, see a doctor. They can suggest over-the-counter medications for symptom relief and rule out bacterial infections, which may require antibiotics.

For viral coughs, key is hydration, rest, and controlling inflammation. Medications can help reduce irritation in airways. Follow up if symptoms last weeks, as new infections can develop.

Wash hands frequently and cover coughs to avoid spreading it. Listen to your body and stay home when sick. Use common sense to protect vulnerable loved ones.

With the right care and precautions, we can get through cold/flu season together. Patience and self-care will see the worst coughs through. Healthy habits protect the community. We’ll all be healthier on the other side!

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