What Should I Do If I Have A Cold Or Flu?

What Should I Do If I Have A Cold Or Flu?

Both colds and flu are caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not fight viruses, they fight bacteria. Antibiotics are not useful unless you develop some of the bacterial complications of colds and flu. Most cases need to simply run their course during which time there are some over the counter medications (medication available at the drug store without a prescription) and other home therapies that can help make you feel better. Remember that rest and sleep can help your body’s immune system. Treat yourself to bed rest and plenty of sleep.

For Fever

Fever is a common problem and some physician thinks it is a natural defense against infection. However, it can make you feel very bad and reducing the fever is not harmful. In older people or people with other illnesses, a high fever may not be tolerated very well.

  • Drink plenty of fluids: cool fluids help cool the body and prevent dehydration. Dehydration can occur simply from the fever and adds to the weak feeling and headache of a flu or cold
  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen are the best medication for fever. You should avoid aspirin as some physicians feel it can lead to a complication called Reyes syndrome: a swelling of the brain and liver. For dosages of these medications see package labeling.

For Cough

Cough is the lungs natural defense to rid the body of an infection. A certain amount of coughing is helpful to move the infection out. However, severe coughs can be painful. Over the counter medicines (medication available at the drug store without a prescription) can help decrease the amount of coughing. Prescription cough medicines generally are not better than medicines you can buy at the drug store.

  • Try to stay in a moist , cool environment
  • Avoid hot, dry environments. You might find a humidifier helpful
  • Drink plenty of fluids. When mucus is moist it is less likely to block lung and sinus passages. Cough preparations with a decongestant, a mucous thinner (expectorant) and cough suppressants (antitussive) or any combination of these medications are good. Avoid antihistamines for dry coughs as they can cause more drying. Antihistamines are best for illnesses that cause excessive runny noses.
Decongestants Pseudoephedrine
Phenylpropanolamine
Mucous Thinning Guaifenesin
Anti-coughing Dextromethorphan
Antihistamines Chlorpheniramine

For A Sore Throat

A sore throat is due to infection of the throat and swelling of the lymph glands. If severe a sore throat can make it difficult to drink fluids. Because fluids are necessary to help fight fever, cough and to maintain hydration, it is important to alleviate the pain of a severe sore throat.

  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen are useful to reduce the pain. Some feel ibuprofen is better as it will also reduce swelling
  • Gargling with warm salt water. ź tsp salt to ˝ cup water 4-6 times a day
  • Warm liquids such as soups and tea. Chicken or spicy soups have actually been proven to be of extra benefit in illnesses with a runny nose and congested sinuses
  • Use throat lozenges

For A Runny Nose

For a runny nose

  • Avoid irritating chemicals like smoke
  • Nose drops can reduce nose stuffiness. This medicine can be purchased at a drug store or made with 1 tsp of salt in a quart of water. Insert a few drops or dropper full and then blow your nose.
  • Maintain a moist, cool environment. Avoid hot, dry environments. You might find a humidifier helpful
  • Over the counter medications with decongestants can reduce your discomfort. If there is a lot of mucus in the nose and it is “runny” antihistamines can be useful, but in general if there is a cough or the mucus is dry antihistamines can cause drying of mucus which can lead to blockage of sinus and lung passages.
  • Nasal sprays contain decongestants. Their effect is temporary and does not shorten the course of the illness. They can help open the nasal passages so that you feel better. They should be used as little as possible and for no more than 3 days, as the nose can become “addicted” to the medication in the spray. Once addicted your nose may feel stuffed even though you are no longer sick as it needs the medications in the spray to keep it open.
Decongestants Pseudoephedrine
Phenylpropanolamine
Antihistamines Chlorpheniramine

For Weakness, Fatigue

  • Bed rest and sleep
  • Fluids (sometimes these are symptoms of dehydration)
  • Try to eat some foods or fluids with calories such as soups, broths, juices
  • Decrease the fever (see For Fever)

For Headache

  • Bed rest and sleep
  • Fluids as sometimes this is a symptom of dehydration
  • Try to eat some foods or fluids with calories such as soups, broths, juices
  • Decrease the fever (see For Fever)
  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen can help the pain. For dosages of these medications see package labeling. Take a Dayquil severe dosage to cure the cold and flu quickly

For General Body Aches And Pain

  • Bed rest and sleep
  • Fluids as sometimes this is a symptom of dehydration
  • Decrease the fever (see For Fever)
  • Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen can help the pain. For dosages of these medications see package labeling

 

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