Video:Prevent or Treat Cold and Fluwith Dr. Mona Khanna
If you do come down with a cold or the flu, we've got a few tips for how to feel better.See Transcript
Transcript:Prevent or Treat Cold and FluEvery year as winter sets in, the inevitable happens. First one member of your family gets sick, then another, then another. Maybe it's a runny nose and scratchy throat. Or it could be a high fever, aches and pains, and a splitting headache. Either way, say hello to the cold and flu season.
Prevent Cold and FluFortunately, there are some things you can do to lower the odds that you and your family will get sick.
- Start with a flu vaccine. Depending on age and physical health, a flu shot every year is essential for some people. For others, it's optional, but still a good idea.
- The next best thing you can do is make hand washing a serious priority for your family.
- Try to keep everyone from touching their eyes and nose, too, because that's where cold and flu germs enter your body most easily.
- If you can, stay away from anyone who is sick, particularly during the first few days of their illness when they are most contagious.
- When someone in your house is sick, keep a separate hand towel in the bathroom just for them.
- If you're sick, cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then throw away the tissue and wash your hands.
Treat Cold and FluUntil recently, it didn't matter whether you had a cold or the flu because the treatment was essentially the same:
- Plenty of fluids
- A fever reducer and pain reliever (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen for aches or a temperature)
- A decongestant or a cold formula (for the runny nose, sore throat, and cough)
Cold or Flu?The telltale sign is the severity of the symptoms.
If you have a high fever, a severe headache, and sore muscles, you've probably got the flu. For antiviral drugs to be effective, you need to start taking them within two days of getting sick. If you think you've got the flu, your doctor can give you a quick test that will let you know for sure. There are some other reasons to call the doctor. If your child's cold suddenly includes a high fever, ear pain, or a sinus headache, you should check with your pediatrician. The same is true if a cough gets worse while the rest of the symptoms improve. With the flu, difficulty breathing or chest pain when coughing can be a sign of pneumonia.
Cold and Flu CautionsWhether you have a cold or the flu, don't bother with antibiotics. Colds and the flu are caused by viruses so they won't help. And never give aspirin to a child or teenager because it can cause a rare but dangerous condition called Reye's syndrome. Colds typically last a week, but two weeks isn't uncommon. For the flu, it usually takes about two weeks to completely recover.
Fortunately, colds and the flu usually come and go without complication. And about the time that leaves start to appear on trees and the tulips bloom, you can congratulate yourself for having survived another cold and flu season. And, then, say hello to allergy season.
I'm Dr. Mona Khanna, About Health.
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