There are more than 100 cold viruses and flu viruses that are constantly changing so that your immune system cannot recognize them. It is no wonder we continue to battle them year after year.

You may think colds are most common in winter. The fact is, colds strike in any season. Colds can’t be cured by medications. Over-the-counter remedies may target and alleviate symptoms, but they may also cause undesirable side effects. For a cold, drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest. Time is really the only cure for a cold. If symptoms persist for more than five days, see your family physician.

Influenza, or the flu, can last twice as long as a cold and is highly contagious, especially within the first three days. Some flu viruses can be treated with medication if administered within the first 24-48 hours of the onset of symptoms. Over-the-counter medications may help in alleviating symptoms, but they will not cure the flu. Your best defense is an annual flu vaccination. If you get the flu, be sure to get plenty of rest, keep to yourself and take an over-the-counter product to keep your fever down.

Symptom Cold

Flu

 Fever  Not likely
 Most likely, 102-104 degrees F
 Headache  Not likely
 Most likely
 General muscle aches & pains
 Not likely  Very likely, prominent
 Fatigue  Not likely  Very likely, can last 2 weeks
 Stuffy nose, sneezing
 Very likely  Sometimes, with other symptoms
 Sore throat
 Very likely  Sometimes, with other symptoms
 Chest discomfort
 Not likely  Very likely, can be severe
 Vomiting and/or diarrhea
 Not likely  Likely
 Sinus congestion
 Likely  Unlikely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Steps to a Cold- and Flu-Free Year

1. Wash hands frequently with hot water and soap.

2. Exercise regularly.

3. Drink lots of water.

4. Keep hands away from eyes, nose and mouth.

5. Wash objects handled by someone with a cold.

6. Use paper tissue instead of handkerchiefs: cloth handkerchiefs harbor viruses.

7. Eat a balanced diet and don’t share food and drinks.

8. Clean the phone receiver regularly at home and at your office.

9. Don’t smoke. Smoking destroys protective cells in the airways.

10. Get plenty of rest.

Peter Hanna, M.D. is a Family Medicine Physician practicing with Northwest Allied Physicians. His office is located at 13101 Rancho Vistoso Blvd., and his phone is 825-0300.

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