Is it a cold or the flu?
||Characteristic, high (102-104), lasts 3-4 days|
|General aches, pains
||Usual, often severe|
||Can last 2-3 weeks|
||Early and prominent|
|Chest discomfort, cough
||Mild to moderate hacking cough
||Common, can become severe|
||Sinus congestion, earache
||Bronchitis, pneumonia, can be life-threatening|
||Only temporary relief of symptoms
||Anti-viral drugs within 24-48 hours of onset of symptoms|
||No vaccine available
||Annual flu vaccine, anti-viral drugs may help|
When should I call my healthcare provider?
A healthy young adult does not usually have to call a healthcare provider at the first signs of a cold or the flu, but you should call in these situations:
- You wish to receive an anti-viral medication to shorten the duration of flu symptoms
- Your symptoms get worse
- Your symptoms last a long time
- After feeling a little better, you develop symptoms of a more dangerous problem. Some of these signs include a sick-to-your stomach feeling, vomiting, high fever, shaking chills, chest pain, coughing with thick yellow-green mucus, stiff neck, sudden severe headache, rash.
Unexpected, even life-threatening complications can occur even in healthy young adults with the flu. Do not hesitate to contact your health care provider immediately if you experience a worsening of your symptoms or develop new problems.
What self-care measures can I take if I do get sick?
A cold usually lasts only a couple of days to a week. Tiredness from the flu may persist for several weeks. To feel better while you are sick:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Get lots of rest.
- Use a humidifier to add extra moisture into the room air. (Be sure to clean the humidifier each time you add fresh water.)
- Non-prescription over-the-counter cough or cold medicines may help relieve symptoms. Make sure they contain only the ingredients that you need to treat the symptoms you actually have. Take the medications only as directed on the package. If you are unsure of which ones to purchase, check with the pharmacist.
|IF YOU WANT TO DO THIS
||CHOOSE MEDICINES WITH THIS|
|Unclog a stuffy nose
||Nasal decongestant, e.g., pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)|
|Quiet a cough
||Cough suppressant with dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM)|
|Loosen mucus so you can cough it up
||Expectorant, e.g., guaifenesin (Robitussin Expectorant)|
|Stop a runny nose and sneezing
||Antihistamine, e.g., chlorpheniramine (Chlortrimeton)|
|Ease fever, headache, minor aches and pains
||Pain reliever (analgesic), e.g. acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)*|
* Do not give aspirin or other "salicylates" to children or teenagers with symptoms of a cold or the flu. Children (age 17 or younger) can die from a rare condition called Reye's Syndrome if they take these medicines while they have these symptoms.
Antibiotics are not effective against cold or flu viruses. However, they may be prescribed to treat the bacterial infections that can develop as complications of the flu.
How is the flu virus spread?
The viruses that cause flu spread primarily from person to person, especially by coughing or sneezing (via the airborne droplets of respiratory fluids). Flu viruses can enter the body through the mucus membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth. After a person has been infected with the virus, symptoms usually appear within 2 to 4 days. The infection is contagious for another 3 to 4 days after symptoms appear.
How can I avoid contracting or spreading flu and cold viruses?
- If you smoke, STOP.
- If you sneeze or cough, do it into a tissue and dispose of the tissue in a wastebasket.
- WASH YOUR HANDS, WASH YOUR HANDS, WASH YOUR HANDS! Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Wash frequently and thoroughly for at least 15 seconds each time (2 choruses of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"). You can easily pick up or spread cold or flu germs, even when shaking someone's hands or touching doorknobs or handrails.
- Use a disinfectant cleanser to clean the surfaces you touch (telephone, keyboard, doorknobs, etc.).
- Don't share eating or drinking utensils.
- TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM. Eat a balanced diet, take a multi-vitamin, get adequate rest, avoid stress, exercise regularly.
- GET AN ANNUAL FLU VACCINE, either the inactivated influenza vaccine shot or the live attenuated influenza vaccine nasal spray. It is recommended that you get the vaccine in October or November, but you can receive it throughout the flu season.