Prevention and Treatment for Cold and Flu - A cold is annoying and can make you feel ugly; but it is usually not dangerous. Suffering from influenza or flu can put you in bed for two or three days and up to one week; Flu can be deadly in those with suppressed immune systems, young children or the elderly. Both conditions are caused by viral infections and are contagious. There are practical steps you can take to avoid these two viruses.
Prevention and Treatment for Cold and Flu
The flu and cold seasons are usually in the fall and winter but you can get either at any time of the year. The most convenient way to avoid both is to practice good hand washing skills. You should wash your hands frequently during the day, but especially before eating. Wash your hands for a period of 30 seconds with warm water and soap. If water and soap are not available, use a disinfectant alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The virus enters the body through the nose or mouth. This may happen to be near an infected person when they are sneezing, coughing, or even speak. Small droplets travel through the air and if you are close enough, you can take the cold. Touching something that an infected person has touched, such as a doorknob or telephone, can also spread the virus. This is why it is essential that you do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth without washing hands first. This is particularly important during the cold season and flu, but is a good habit to practice all year.
Always use tissues when coughing or sneezing and throw the tissue and wash your hands or use sanitizer. Always cough or sneeze into your elbow if a tissue is not handy.
Everyone who is at high risk for influenza complications should receive an annual flu shot. The new vaccines are generally available from October each year.
Cold symptoms include sneezing, watery eyes, mild fever does not exceed 102 F, cough, mild pain or headaches and mild fatigue. Cold symptoms also include throat irritation or pain, congestion and a stuffy or runny nose according to the article, "cold symptoms" by the staff of the Mayo Clinic.
The flu attacks the respiratory system and lungs, throat, nose and bronchi may be affected. The symptoms of influenza are high fever (101 F or more), dry cough, headache and pain particularly in the back, legs and arms. Other flu symptoms are chills, sweating, loss of appetite, being very weak or tired children and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
There are no antibiotics or remedies for colds. Typically, treatments for common cold symptoms are analgesics, nasal decongestants and drugs against cough and syrups; these drugs can have side effects and a cold will go away on its own within a week or two. Alternative medicines include vitamin C, zinc and echinacea sprays or lozenges. They will not prevent or cure a cold, but there is evidence that they can reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of the cold.
Bed rest and stay hydrated is the best remedy for flu symptoms. Drink lots of water and juice and eat hot, hearty soups to help your body recover faster. Take medications against counter pain for pain and fever. If you are at risk of complications from influenza, you should call your doctor as soon as you feel the first symptoms. Antiviral drugs are available and can shorten the duration of influenza, but they only work if taken within 48 hours of having symptoms