It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since the last time you could see or hear someone coughing without thinking twice about it. But ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re keenly aware of people coughing around you and how frequently. 

The week before winter break started, a friend of ours had to take a few days off work because her son had a fever and had been sent home from school. With a new COVID variant and RSV in the news, she prepared for the worst. He tested negative for both. And for the flu. But whatever he had? Our friend got it too. She only felt crummy for a day and also tested negative. Even though she rebounded quickly, here we are, two weeks into the new year and she still has this lingering, dry, hacking cough. 

And she’s not the only one! We’ve noticed people with the same cough around the office, restaurants we go to all the time, Albertsons…so what gives? If it’s not COVID, RSV, flu, what’s causing the persistent cough? Is there a new virus we need to be worried about?

What’s the Deal With This Cough Everyone in Idaho Seems to Have Right Now?

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HuffPost talked to some doctors to find the answers. One told them that she’s seen a bunch of patients that tested negative for the illnesses we’ve already mentioned, but are frustrated because their cough isn’t clearing us with antibiotics. That’s why she believes that the cough is viral, but not new. She thinks it’s being caused by rhinoviruses, non-COVID coronaviruses or adenoviruses.

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Those sound scary, but they’re just run of the mill viruses that cause what most of us call “the common cold.” Most doctors won’t test you for those unless your symptoms are bad enough to put you in the hospital. 

Another doctor explained that as those viruses replicate and infect your body, they cause inflammation that can tickle your throat, nose and chest. That inflammation will stick around for a bit, even after your body clears the virus. The doctor explained:

The body continues to produce mucus and have bronchospasms, which is when the muscles in the airways tighten and cause a cough. For some people, this inflammation can persist anywhere from two weeks to two months. 

So, it’s highly likely that’s why you or the people in your office are hacking up a lung. That said, if you notice your symptoms are getting worse or are producing discolored mucus, a fever, chills or other symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. Those are all signs that you could be battling pneumonia. 

Idaho’s Current COVID Numbers

Like we mentioned, there is a new COVID variant called JN.1 circulating through the community. Some have reported that it has new symptoms like trouble sleeping or causing worry/anxiety. We’re not sure we’d even consider those “symptoms” if we weren’t feeling well. Heck, just having to get up and go to work every day causes us the same “symptoms.”

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At any rate, Idaho’s COVID hospitalization numbers have been slowly rising since the end of August. And we mean real slow. According to the Idaho Division of Public Health, 90 Idahoans were hospitalized with COVID with 11 patients in the ICU on January 8. Three of the hospitalizations were pediatric patients. 

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