The Cost of a Cold

cost of a common cold

It all started on January 24th with a sore throat. At first, I thought (and hoped) that it was nothing, just a little blip on the old health radar. After all, I haven’t been sick-sick in about 2 years.

Unfortunately, as the days passed, that sore throat morphed into sneezing, coughing, congestion, etc. I had caught a full-on cold. Ugh!

By the first week of February I was starting to perk up and feel a bit better. That reprieve lasted about 3 days, until the rest of the family came down with the sniffles and runny noses. My cold came roaring back with a vengeance.

Urgent Care

On Valentines Day, I had reached my limit. Feeling downright awful, I finally caved and asked my husband to take me to the urgent care clinic. I was officially sick of being sick.



$50 bucks and 15 minutes later, I had a diagnosis- sinus infection, and a prescription for antibiotics. Sweet relief!

I had stubbornly waited so long to go to the Dr. because it seemed silly to go for a common cold. Unfortunately, no amount of chicken noodle soup, tea, and over the counter meds were making a difference. Now I knew why. Apparently my cold had morphed into a full-blown sinus infection, which is why it wasn’t going anywhere without a little help from modern medicine.

Adding up the damage

While I did save money since I basically stayed home for the whole month, we did have to spend on all those cold-related necessities. I decided to total it up and see just what the cost of a cold really is:

  • 2 boxes generic DayQuil gel capsules @ $2.79 each
  • 1 bottle generic DayQuil liquid @ $3.99
  • 1 bottle of Robitussin cough syrup @ $7.99
  • 1 bottle Children’s Pedia Care @ $5.99
  • Visit to Urgent Care @ $50
  • Prescription antibiotics @ $4.43
  • 1 box tea bags @ $3.99
  • 1 bottle of honey @5.99
  • 6 boxes of tissues @ $1.50 each

Total: $96.96

That is one costly cold! On the bright side, I was able to keep working the whole time, since I freelance from home. There were definitely days where my productivity level was non-existent, but I powered through and tried to keep up with the workload and client requests as best as I could.

*Please note that this was for all 3 of us, not just me. I was not downing multiple packages of over the counter cold relief and cough medicine on my own!

Lesson learned

This crummy experience taught me that it is not worth it to wait to see a Dr., even if it’s just a cold. After a week of suffering, it’s time to suck it up and see someone. I’m so glad that there’s a nice urgent care facility that opened up nearby recently, and I’m also grateful that we have a prescription plan through our insurance.

My trip to the clinic would have been more expensive without our health insurance plan. Our insurance isn’t fabulous, but it’s not bad, either.

I’m happy to report that I’m on my last few days of antibiotics and feeling much, much better. I’m so ready to come out of hibernation. It’s going to be spring soon, right?

Have you been healthy this winter, or has your family been hit with a cold that won’t quit?

About Lauren

Lauren May is a freelance writer and full-time mom living her best life on a budget.

9 thoughts on “The Cost of a Cold

  1. Actually I think you are really smart for waiting. Doctors are starting to be more vigilant about not giving out antibiotics unless someone has had sinus-infection symptons for 7-10 days. Granted, you might not have to come back and have another checkup as they may say to just call back in x days and they will send in the prescription.

    I’m not gonna lie, I had to laugh when you said your $100 cold/sinus infection was expensive. I have terrible allergies and chronic sinusitis. I’ve had two sinus surgeries within the past 4 years. This included seeing a specialist a number of times. Health-related issues can be very expensive, and really can come out of nowhere. I had no idea my sinus issues would result in two surgeries (and now, allergy immunotherapy). Needless to say, YES my sinus infections have been expensive!

  2. My husband got that nasty, nasty cold going around. We kept a close eye on it because, in previous years, colds have morphed into pneumonia. Probably because he already has asthma, so he can’t expel as much as he’d like. (I know, ew.)

    Right as he was getting better, I started getting sick. Luckily, we already had the medication I needed. So between the two of us, we went through about 3 boxes over the course of 2.5 weeks. I kept on top of the meds and apparently got lucky. I never got as horribly sick as my husband.

    We definitely saved on food because my husband loses his appetite when he’s sick. So very little fast food and lots of cereal.

  3. So many people only think about the co-pay when they get sick and have to go to the doctor’s office. They don’t included the “extras” we need to make us feel better OR the lost wages. Being sick, especially when you have a family can get quite costly!

    I am glad to hear that you are all feeling much better!

  4. It seems so many people have had something worse than a cold this season. I’m knocking hard on wood that I can make it through the season without getting something! When I do my money goes towards really soft kleenex and nasal decongestant. Hope you feel better!

  5. This has been the worst winter for me ever! I get a cold here and there, but in December my cold turned into bronchitis. I kept waiting and waiting for my meds to kick in and help, but they didn’t work. I finally felt so horrible and went to the ER and ended up collapsing. I ended up in ICU for a week with pneumonia and was on bed rest for another 2 weeks afterwards!

    Never again will I just wait for meds to kick in – clearly they weren’t working and I should have gone back to the doctor and trusted my gut something was seriously wrong!

    It’s definitely been $$$ but my insurance has covered a lot of my bills.

    1. Oh my, that is just terrible! The Dr. I saw said there was a lot of bad stuff going around this winter, beyond the common cold, and it definitely seems like so many people were hit with something.

  6. This winter has been an expensive one for us because my son caught a really bad cold and we had to take him to the doctor’s office twice to make sure it wasn’t something contagious like strep. Each doctor’s visit costs us around $60 out of pocket, not to mention his cold meds. Spring cannot come soon enough for us!

    1. aww, poor little guy 🙁 Hope he’s feeling better. It’s got to start warming up and drying out soon…that’s what I keep telling myself on these 25 degree days!

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