What Are Other Ways To Treat And Prevent The Flu
Antiviral prescription medicines and an annual flu vaccine are available for treating and preventing the flu.
Prescription anti-flu medicines include amantadine , rimantadine , zanamivir and oseltamivir . These drugs do not cure the flu, but they can make the symptoms milder and make you feel better more quickly. They are only effective when used in the first 48 hours of flu-like symptoms.
These drugs are not needed for healthy people who get the flu. They are usually reserved for people who are very sick with the flu or those who are at risk of complications from the flu, such as people with long-term chronic medical conditions or older age.
Flu vaccine . Although there is currently no vaccine against the common cold, there is a vaccine to prevent the flu. The vaccine is available by both shot and nasal spray. It works by exposing the immune system to the viruses. The body responds by building antibodies against the flu. The flu shot contains dead flu viruses. The nasal spray contains live, but weakened, flu viruses. The nasal spray is only approved for healthy children and adults two to 49 years old and who are not pregnant.
Check If You Have A Cold
Cold symptoms come on gradually and can include:
- a blocked or runny nose
- a sore throat
- pressure in your ears and face
- loss of taste and smell
The symptoms are the same in adults and children. Sometimes symptoms last longer in children.
Cold and flu symptoms are similar, but flu tends to be more severe.
|Appears quickly within a few hours|
|Affects mainly your nose and throat||Affects more than just your nose and throat|
|Makes you feel unwell, but you’re OK to carry on as normal||Makes you feel exhausted and too unwell to carry on as normal|
When To Go To The Er
Fever and cold symptoms can turn into influenza symptoms if you arent feeling any better as the days progress, or if the symptoms quickly escalate. In addition to typical common cold symptoms , high fevers in adults are usually a good indicator of a viral cold or potential flu.
Adults with a sustained fever of more than 102 degrees, as well as any combination of the below flu-like symptoms, should seek medical attention:
- Difficulty breathing
- Severe chest or stomach pain
- Vertigo and lightheadedness
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How To Protect Others
When a person contracts a cold-causing virus, it can be spread to others through the air, on surfaces, and through close, personal contact. People carrying the virus can also leave virus behind on shared surfaces like doorknobs and computers.
If youre sick with a cold, its important to be a good neighbor, family member, or friend and take steps to protect those around you when possible.
Wintery Mix Of Viruses
Winter is the prime cold and flu season. Youre more likely to be indoors and closer to others when its colder outside. Weather also plays a role in the spread of viruses.
Cold and flu viruses survive better and are more transmissible if its cooler and if theres lower humidity, Gordon explains.
Experts are concerned that flu and COVID-19 cases may increase and overlap in the winter. Flu cases usually start to increase around October and peak between December and February. Being infected with flu and SARS-CoV-2 at the same time is possible, as is showing symptoms of both.
If youre sick with the flu, your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs. Such drugs can make your flu milder and shorten the time you are sick. They work best if theyre used early in your illness.
The FDA has also approved one antiviral drug, called remdesivir, to treat COVID-19. Other treatments are in development and under review. No complementary approaches have been shown to be helpful for fighting off flu or COVID-19.
Fortunately, strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also prevent the spread of flu and cold. Measures like masking and social distancing work for other respiratory viruses, as well as COVID-19, says Dr. Chip Walter, who studies vaccine development at Duke University.
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How Long Someone Can Spread The Virus
For both COVID-19 and flu, its possible to spread the virus for at least 1 day before experiencing any symptoms.
If a person has COVID-19, they could be contagious for a longer time than if they have flu.
Most people with flu are contagious for about 1 day before they show symptoms.
Older children and adults with flu appear to be most contagious during the first 3-4 days of their illness, but many people remain contagious for about 7 days.
Infants and people with weakened immune systems can be contagious for even longer.
How long someone can spread the virus that causes COVID-19 is still being studied.
Heres what we know from studies of prior variants, including Delta:
- On average, people can begin spreading the virus 2-3 days before their symptoms begin, but infectiousness peaks 1 day before their symptoms begin.
- On average, people can continue to spread the virus another 8 days after their symptoms began.
This information is from studies of prior variants. We still have much to learn about new variants, including Omicron. CDC will share findings from ongoing studies as soon as they are available.
Flu Shot Side Effects
CDC note that the flu vaccine has a good safety record, and it cannot cause flu.
A person may experience the following adverse effects after having a vaccine, but these will be mild and usually pass within a few days.
- pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site
- muscle aches
Around 12 people in every 1 million may develop a condition known as Guillain-Barr syndrome . However, people can also develop GBS after having flu, and the risk of this is higher than with the vaccine. The risk of developing GBS may be lower with the nasal spray version of the vaccine.
If someone experiences hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing after any vaccine, they should seek immediate medical help as these may be the sign of an allergic reaction. A severe reaction is known as anaphylaxis, which can be life threatening.
how to recognize anaphylaxis and what to do if it happens.
People who have previously had an allergic reaction to a vaccine should not have the flu shot.
Is the flu shot safe? Find out here.
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Should You Go To The Er For Cold And Flu Symptoms
- Should You Go to the ER for Cold…
The common cold typically lasts between seven to 10 days, and common cold treatments are often nothing more than rest and over-the-counter symptom management medications.
When treatments for the common cold arent working and you or a loved one is experiencing flu-like symptoms, here are some reasons when your common cold symptoms could be a sign of something worse, and when you should think about heading to the ER.
How To Treat The Flu
In most cases, fluids and rest are the best ways to treat the flu. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Over-the-counter decongestants and pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, may control your symptoms and help you feel better.
However, never give aspirin to children. It can increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called Reyes syndrome.
Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs oseltamivir , zanamivir , or peramivir to treat the flu.
These drugs can shorten the duration of the flu and prevent complications such as pneumonia. However, they may not be effective if not started within 48 hours of getting sick.
If youre at risk of complications from the flu, call your doctor when you first have symptoms. People at risk of serious complications include:
- people over the age of 65
- pregnant women
- women who are two weeks postpartum
- children under age of 2
- children under age 18 taking aspirin
- those with weakened immune systems due to HIV, steroid treatment, or chemotherapy
- people who are extremely obese
- people with chronic lung or heart conditions
- people with metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, anemia, or kidney disease
- people living in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes
Contact your doctor right away if your symptoms do not improve or if they become severe. See your doctor if you have signs of pneumonia, including:
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What Else Can I Do To Prevent Getting Colds And The Flu
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcoholic hand wipes. Cold and flu viruses are spread by touching your nose or mouth after touching an infected person, breathing in the air of an infected person’s sneeze or cough, or touching objects that have come in contact with the virus and then touching your nose.
Other prevention tips are to eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of liquids , and avoid close contact with people who have colds. Also, get an annual flu vaccine.
Allergies Have Chronic Symptoms
COVID-19, like the flu or common cold, is an acute illness, meaning people feel fine until symptoms start showing up.
Allergies, on the other hand, are usually chronic, presenting with symptoms off and on for weeks, months, or even years, Dr. David M. Cutler, family medicine physician at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Healthline.
Allergies should not cause a fever or body aches, Arthur said. Generally, no cough unless you have a lot of nasal drainage.
Conversely, itchy eyes and facial pain are more typical of allergies than a COVID-19 infection.
Allergies may also cause wheezing, she said, especially in people with asthma.
Allergy symptoms tend to vary with the environment: worsening with exposure to dust, pollen, or animal dander, whereas cold symptoms tend to persist regardless of time of day, weather, locality, or other environmental factors, Cutler said.
Also, as with COVID-19, colds are more likely to have generalized symptoms like fever, headache, and body aches, whereas allergies usually affect only the respiratory tract, Cutler said.
Allergy symptoms tend to improve with antihistamine and other allergy-specific medication, he said. Colds are more likely to respond to decongestants, acetaminophen, fluids, and rest.
The CDC issued guidance on the differences in symptoms between COVID-19 and seasonal allergies.
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What Causes The Flu
Flu is caused by the type A, type B or rarely the type C influenza virus. Only types A and B cause major outbreaks and severe disease, while type C can cause an illness in children similar to the common cold.
Colds and flu are very contagious viral infections and you can catch a cold or flu at any time of the year, not just in winter however they are more common during the winter months. This may be because people are more likely to stay indoors and be in close contact with each other.
If you have a cold or flu and you sneeze or cough, tiny droplets of fluid containing the virus are launched into the air. These droplets spread about 1 metre and are suspended in the air for a while so they can be breathed in by someone else who may then become infected.
These tiny droplets of fluid can also land on surfaces. Anyone who touches these surfaces can catch a cold or flu if they pick up the virus on their hands and then touch their nose or mouth.
If you have a cold or flu and you touch your mouth or nose and then touch a person or object without first washing your hands, then you can transfer the virus to that person or object.
How To Avoid Spreading A Cold
Colds are caused by viruses and easily spread to other people. You’re infectious until all your symptoms have gone. This usually takes 1 to 2 weeks.
Colds are spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours.
To reduce the risk of spreading a cold:
- wash your hands often with warm water and soap
- use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
- bin used tissues as quickly as possible
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Is Viral Flu With Rash Dangerous
Viral flu like symptoms with rash is not usually considered to be dangerous. It is, however, essential to ensure that it is not a part of a severe disease. There may be sudden occurrences of widespread rash all over the body due to the flu which will disappear in few days. If the symptoms are mild, there is no need to worry, and there is no specific treatment for the same. If the rash is really itchy, you can try some antihistamine for the same. You can also try out some OTC creams that can reduce itching by a great deal.
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Risk Factors For The Common Cold
Certain conditions may increase your risk of catching a cold. These include:
- Time of year. Colds can happen any time of year, but theyre more common in the fall and winter, or during rainy seasons. We spend more time inside when its cold and wet, which increases the chance of the virus spreading.
- Age. Children under age 6 are more likely to develop colds. Their risk is even higher if theyre in day care or a child care setting with other kids.
- Environment. If youre around a lot of people, such as on a plane or at a concert, youre more likely to encounter rhinoviruses.
- Compromised immune system. If you have a chronic illness or have been sick recently, you may be more likely to pick up a cold virus.
- Smoking. People who smoke have an increased risk of catching a cold, and their colds tend to be more severe.
- Lack of sleep. Irregular or inadequate sleep can affect your immune system, which may make you more susceptible to cold viruses.
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Who Should Get An Annual Flu Shot
The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following groups receive an annual flu vaccine shot between November and February :
- All people aged six months and older.
It is especially important for certain individuals at high risk of flu complications and those who come in contact with people at high risk of complications to receive the flu vaccine. These people at high risk include:
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
- People who have chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, kidney and liver disorders and chronic lung diseases.
- People with a weakened immune system, for example, people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, or chronic steroid users.
- Household members and caregivers of patients at risk of complications from the flu.
- Women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season .
- Healthcare workers who come into close contact with patients in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare facilities.
- Infants and children ages six months through 18 years who are taking long-term aspirin therapy. This puts these individuals at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after flu infection.
- American Indians/Alaska natives.
- People who have close contact with children under five years of age for example, people who live with children, nannies and providers of daycare services.
- People who are morbidly obese .
Get Advice From A Nurse
Our care lines make it easy for you to talk directly with a nurse 24/7, 365 days a year. The best part? Its completely free of charge.
Our nurses can help you decide if its time to see a doctor and give you some additional home remedy advice. To talk with a nurse, you can call the HealthPartners CareLine at or the Park Nicollet Nurse Line at .
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When Do I Call The Doctor With Flu Or Cold Symptoms
If you already have flu or cold symptoms, it’s important to call your doctor if you also have any of the following severe symptoms:
- Persistent fever: A fever lasting more than three days can be a sign of another bacterial infection that should be treated.
- Painful swallowing: Although a sore throat from a cold or flu can cause mild discomfort, severe pain could mean strep throat, which requires treatment by a doctor.
- Persistent coughing: When a cough doesn’t go away after two or three weeks, it could be bronchitis, which may need an antibiotic. Postnasal drip or sinusitis can also result in a persistent cough. In addition, asthma is another cause of persistent coughing.
- Persistent congestion and headaches: When colds and allergies cause congestion and blockage of sinus passages, they can lead to a sinus infection . If you have pain around the eyes and face with thick nasal discharge after a week, you may have a bacterial infection and possibly need an antibiotic. Most sinus infections, however, do not need an antibiotic.
In some cases, you may need to get emergency medical attention right away. In adults, signs of a crisis include:
- Symptoms that were improving and then suddenly worsen
- Fever with a rash
Getting Better Before Getting Worse
Another important sign that can help you or a loved one determine if you need to visit the ER is when treatment for severe colds may make you feel better initially, but flu-like symptoms return. If your fever broke and returned after a few days, chest pain starts to come back or you are unable to hold down food after youve been able to eat normally, it might be a sign that stronger influenza treatment is necessary.
If at any point you or a loved one also is experiencing any symptoms of severe hydration, including extreme thirst, confusion, dark-colored urine and dizziness, seek medical treatment immediately.
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