Robert Olson
Robert P. Olson, MD
Family Medicine
Orlando Health


We know that germs can make you sick, but if you seem to constantly be under the weather with cold symptoms, could it be something other than germs that are getting you down?

If the symptoms are severe (high fever, significant pain, etc.,) you should seek medical treatment. But, if the symptoms are tolerable—but frustrating in their longevity, you might do a little detective work to find out what may be causing trouble. What exactly are the symptoms? When did they begin and how long have they been going on? Does any activity, environment or food seem to trigger them?

The Never-Ending Cold—or Is It?

If you frequently have cold symptoms, such as sneezing and a stuffy or runny nose, you might have allergies. More than 50 million people in the U.S. have allergy symptoms each year, with hay fever being the most common allergic disease.

Allergies are your immune system’s overreaction to substances, resulting in sneezing, coughing and, in some cases, itching. If you invariably get a long lasting “cold” every spring or fall, it could be a reaction to spring or fall foliage. An illness that comes on suddenly, perhaps including itchy eyes, coughing and a runny nose, but no fever could be an allergy. If you think you may have an allergy, talk with your doctor about options, such as over the counter and prescription medicines.

On the other hand, if you get a cold and recover from it, only to get another one a few weeks later, you might consider tweaks to your lifestyle that might boost your immune system.

  • Stop smoking. We know smoking is bad for health, but when combined with a cold, it can lead to increased lung inflammation and damage.
  • Eat foods that provide the vitamins that strengthen your body’s ability to fight disease. Leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale are rich with Vitamin C, which can help shorten the length of a cold. Vitamin E, found in peanuts and almonds, helps fight infection. Vitamin B6, is also important to immune system functions, and is found in bananas and lean chicken breast. Other vitamins to include in your diet are Vitamin A and D. Folic acid, iron, selenium and zinc also help the immune system.
  • Exercise. Believe it or not, you can feel tired because you’re not getting enough exercisePhysical activity can help maintain your weight, reduce stress, strengthen bones and muscles and boost your mood.
  • Get Rest—especially if you’re not feeling well. While you can and should get some light exercise even on days you aren’t feeling your best, if you feel awful, that’s a sign to slow down and give your body time to recover. Even before you feel sick, it’s important to get enough rest and sleep. Not getting enough sleep can make you more susceptible to getting sick, and a lack of sleep can make recovery time longer.
  • Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

If you’re maintaining healthy habits but are still getting sick frequently, talk to your doctor. If you don’t have one, come over to Summerport FM and see me to make sure there are no underlying issues that are keeping you from staying well.