As winter sets in, many people suffer from colds and related symptoms. However, a healthy life-style could help prevent the spread of such ailments.
Common colds and influenza are the most common illness to infect mankind. They are both caused by viruses. Colds rarely pose a severe threat to one’s health. Influenza can be more severe, even if the individual was healthy in the first place. For those who are frailer, influenza can be deadly.
What are the symptoms of colds and influenza?
The main symptoms of a cold are a runny and/or blocked nose, and a hacking cough. Patients may also suffer a sore throat and possibly a slight temperature. Colds last for two to 14 days.
Those suffering from influenza do not have runny noses. Influenza victims may suffer a dry cough and a high fever. Body aches are common as are nausea, burning eyes and loss of appetite. The patient may also suffer chills. Influenza generally lasts longer than a common cold.
How do I get better?
Medication will not really cure a cold. The patient should get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Painkillers such as aspirin or paracetamol can help headaches and fever. Decongestants can help alleviate the symptoms but will not shorten the recovery period.
Staying at home in bed is the best way to cure influenza as well. Again, painkillers will relieve fever and aches. Those suffering with the more severe Type A strain of influenza may be given an antiviral drug.
Because both illnesses are caused by viruses, not bacteria, antibiotics will not help and should not be taken.
Blowing one’s nose will only make illnesses worse, as this spreads the viruses to a wider area in the sinuses.
Is there anything I can do to help me prevent catching a cold or the flu?
In the case of the cold, the best preventative action is avoiding the virus. The virus is most commonly passed when an infected person sneezes or coughs on his hand or wipes his nose and then leaves virus particles on things he touches. Others touching that object, such as a door knob, will pick up the virus particles. Then the person simply needs to touch his own eyes or nose to infect himself.
Wash your hands frequently and, if possible, clean contaminated surfaces with a virus-killing disinfectant. When with persons, who has a cold, don’t shake hands with them and avoid touching your eyes or nose.
Influenza spreads through air. When a person sneezes, viruses flow in the air where other people will inhale them.
Flu shots are quite successful at preventing influenza. Those who have shots and still catch influenza are likely to have a much milder bout. Influenza vaccines are redesigned each year to accommodate new strains.
If you are unable to get a shot, wearing a mask can help. Do not share your mask and do not attempt to prolong its life by washing and reusing it.
Try to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and drink lots of warm drinks during the winter months.