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December is Cold and Flu Survival Month!

Toni Ann DiSantis

The Common Cold The common cold is an upper respiratory infection that is caused by several families of viruses.  It is one of the most common infectious diseases in humans.  The average American has one to three colds per year.

The Flu (influenza) The flu is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus.  The infection is very contagious and typically is spread by air or by direct contact, from one person to another.  Most cases occur during epidemics, which peak during the winter months nearly every year.

 

Is it a cold or the flu?

Symptoms             COLD                 FLU    

Fever                       Rare                  High (100-102) 

Headache                Rare                  Prominent

Body Ache              Rare                 May be Severe

Fatigue                    Mild                  2-3 Weeks

Exhaustion               Never                Prominent

Stuffy Nose             Common           Sometimes

Cough                     Mild-Moderate      May be Severe

Sore Throat              Common             Sometimes

 

PREVENTION

Protect yourself from cold and flu viruses!

1. Wash your hands often. Most cold and flu viruses are spread by direct contact.

2. Don’t touch your face. Cold and flu viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose, or mouth.

3. Drink plenty of fluids, at least eight 8-ounce classes each day. Water flushes your system, washing out the poisons as it rehydrates you.

4. Do aerobic exercise regularly. It helps to increase the body’s natural virus-killing cells.

5. Don’t smoke. Statistics show that heavy smokers get more severe colds and more frequent ones. Even being around smoke profoundly zaps the immune system.

6. Cut alcohol consumption. Heavy drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications. Alcohol also dehydrates the body.

7. Get a flu vaccine, especially if you are in a high-risk group. Early in the season is ideal, but the vaccine can be given at any time during the flu season.

 

TREATMENT

When you have a cold:

• Relieve symptoms with over-the-counter medications. Congestion, cough, and nasal discharge may be treated with a decongestant, antihistamine, or acombination of the two.

• Adequate liquid intake (eight classes of water or juice per day) is recommended. This will help keep the lining of the nose and throat from drying out, so that mucus remains moist and easy to clear from the nose.

• It won’t delay your recovery if you must go to work or school. But be a good citizen. Use tissues and wash your hands frequently to reduce the spread of your cold germs to others.

When you have the flu:

• There are effective antiviral treatments that can reduce the duration of the suffering caused by the flu. See your doctor within 2 days of when flu symptoms appear to find out if an antiviral medication is right for you.

• Over-the-counter medications can minimize discomfort associated with flu symptoms, but these medications do not treat the virus infection.

• Adequate liquids and nutrition are necessary for rapid recovery and to prevent dehydration. Bed rest is also a good idea. Until symptoms are gone, it is not advisable to go back to full activity.