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Colds and Flu

Minimize the effects of cold and flu infections

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Updated December 06, 2004

If you don't meet the guidelines for getting a flu shot or if you catch a cold you may have to deal with a bout of illness. You can minimise the effects of this illness on yourself and others by following these guidelines for treating a cold or flu.

  • Stay Home
    If you do have a cold or flu stay home. As most cold and flu illness occurs in the winter months this may mean missing some family and holiday gettogethers. Rest is important in your recovery plus you run the risk of passing your illness on to someone with a lowered immune system. Passing on your simple cold could mean someone else becoming very ill with pneumonia.
  • Protect Others
    Cover your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing to avoid spreading your illness. Wash your hands frequently especially after blowing your nose, coughing and sneezing and especially after using the restroom.
  • Rest and Recover
    Pamper yourself as you stay home to recover. Don't use your time at home to catch up on chores. Rest and relax with low-keyed activities such as reading or television. It is OK to be a couch potato while you are sick.
  • Treat Yourself
    Be sure to drink plenty of fluids including water and fruit juices. You may have a fever and run the risk of dehydration if you do not get additional fluids to replace those you lose. Additional fluids will also help to loosen nasal and respiratory secretions.
    Try to eat a balanced diet. Softer foods will help if you have a sore throat. Many people swear by that old stand-by for colds and flu - chicken soup.
  • MedicationsThere are many over the counter medications that can help ease the symptoms of a cold or flu including NSAIDS for aches and fever and decongestants for nasal drainage. Read the labels. These medications could interact with prescription medications you are taking.
    Colds and the flu are caused by virus. Don't ask your doctor for antibiotics as they only work against bacteria.
  • Medical Care
    If you have a run of the mill cold or flu you should not require medical care. These viral infections generally run their course in 7 - 10 days. You should seek immediate medical care if you're having chest pain, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing. These symptoms are serious and require emergency intervention.
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