The Common Cold Cost 40 Billion Dollars a Year
The cold and flu season is coming. There will be aches and pains, running noses, sore throats and missed work. The other thing there will be is a big price tags. The common cold cost 40 billion dollars annually in the U.S.
U-M researchers found that the total economic impact of cold virus to be more expensive than asthma, heart failure. Data specified 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.
“From a bottle of cough syrup to missed time at work and school, the price tag of catching a cold really adds up," says A. Mark Fendrick, M.D., lead author on the paper and co-director of the Consortium for Health Outcomes, Innovation, Cost Effectiveness Studies (CHOICES) at UMHS. "Since there is no cure for the common cold, it does not receive a lot of attention when compared to less common conditions. We wanted to calculate the total economic impact that the cold has on our economy."
"A cold is the most commonly occurring illness in humans, so it was no surprise that there are approximately 500 million colds each year in the U.S.," says Fendrick. "What was a surprise is how often the public uses the health care system to treat a cold."
The study measured doctor's bills, over-the-counter medication, and prescription drugs. It also recorded missed school and work days, a cost that is generally overlooked, added Fendrick. "For some, catching a cold may lead to a trip to the drug store to stock up on throat lozenges and nasal decongestants, and for others a brief doctor's visit," says Fendrick. "The public doesn't usually consider the costs associated with missing a day of work due to illness or having to stay home to take care of a sick child. Not surprisingly, lost work drives most of the cost."
Though most people are aware that 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.
"We found that the common cold leads to more than 100 million physician visits annually at a conservative cost estimate of $7.7 billion per year," Fendrick says. "More than one third of patients who saw a doctor received an antibiotic prescription. While these unnecessary costs are problematic, what is more concerning is how these treatment patterns contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance, a significant public health concern."
The best way to treat a common cold is to get plenty of rest and fluids, wash hands often, take zinc lozenges and vitamin C, and there is nothing wrong with a good dose of mom’s chicken soup, which contains drug-like agents similar to those in modern cold medicines. Keep in mind that the common cold cost 40 billion dollars annually and a bowl of chicken soup costs a few bucks.