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If you’re reading these words while coughing, sneezing and rubbing your eyes, there’s a decent chance you have a common cold—which is, as the name suggests, common. The average American adult will suffer through 200 colds in a lifetime. Every year, that collective misery results in 100 million doctor visits, 40 million missed workdays and $25 billion in lost productivity. If you happen to have the flu, the news is worse: Last year, of the 25 million Americans who contracted influenza, 310,000 wound up in the hospital, and 12,000 died.
As you might expect, millions of people with cold or flu symptoms turn to the internet for help.