How to feel better:
  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
  • Use a vaporizer steam or drink hot liquids to releive congestion
  • Get extra rest
  • Use acetominophen or ibuprofen if not contraindicated.
Do not use Aspirin or anything with aspirin in it, because of increased risk of Reye's Syndrome
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Difference between flu and cold
Onset Sudden Gradual
Fever over 101 F for 3-4 days Rare
Cough dry, non productive, at times severe Productive, hacking
Headache Yes Rare
Body Aches(myalgias)  Severe Slight
Fatigue/Weakness Yes, and can last upto 2-3 weeks. Mild
Exhaustion Yes No
Chest discomfort Common Mild
Stuffy nose Sometimes Yes
sore throat Sometimes Yes
Cause: Both are viruses of the upper respiratory tract-nose, throat, bronchial tubes, lungs and middle ear. 
When: Colds can occur anytime of the year, but influenza (flu) occurs mostly in November through March
Who can get it: Anyone, but people who are old and frail or have underlying diseases are most susceptible to the complications. 
Spread: Through the air (aerosolized droplets) and by direct contact. 
Treatment: There is no specific treatment for the cold and most people get over the illness on thier own. Of course, everyone has their favorite remedy and comfort measure to recommend. Antibiotics are not indicated unless there is a complication such as sinusitis, otitis or pneumonia. 

There are antiviral agents which may reduce the course of the flu if started within the first 48 hours. 

Prevention: You could live in a plastic bubble and then you would never get a cold, or the flu. Obvioulsy that is not going to happen, so stay away from infected people, and wash your hands frequently. 

Flu shots - Includes vaccine against three types of influenza predicted to be the most common around the world for years. The flu shot is 70% effective against those three influenza strains. 

Myths and Facts

Myth: Going outside without a coat can cause a cold or flu.
Fact: Research shows that exposure to extreme cold does not lead to colds or flu. They are caused by viruses, transmitted by contact with people, but it's a good idea to dress appropiately for the weather. 

Myth: You can catch flu from a flu shot.
Fact: You cannot get the flu from a vaccination because the virus is inactive. Some people do get a fever or sore arm for a day or two.

Myth: Chicken soup will cure a cold.
Fact: Chicken soup has no special curative powers but may ease cough or congestion by being a hot liquid.

Myth: Vitamin C and zinc lozenges can prevent or cure a cold or a flu.
Fact: Large doses of Vitamin C and zinc lozenges have not proven to prevent or cure a cold or a flu.

Q: Shouldn't I have an antibiotic if the drainage from my nose is thick and yellow? 

A: Antibiotics should not be used just to treat thick drainage. That thick drainage is your own body's response to fighting infection and is actually a good indication that your body is doing is doing its job. Bacterial complications after the colds and the flu can happen but your doctor will need to assess the complete picture and not just base the antibiotic treatment on the amount, thickness or color of the drainage. 
Q: Why do we seem to get more colds in the winter when the weather is cold?
A: Its not because of the cold weather, but because people are indoors more, and of course visiting relatives and friends over the holidays.

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page last updated on February 17th 2000