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Cod vs. Flu Symptoms – How to Know If You Have a Cold or the Flu

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Cod vs. Flu Symptoms – How to Know If You Have a Cold or the Flu

cold and flu survival guide

Patricia Heal/Art Partner.

Yep, it’s sneeze season. Each year Americans could be hit with an estimated 1 billion colds and 8% of us will get slammed with the flu. That’s a whole lot of cough drops, tissues and sick days. No worries: We’ve got you covered with the info you need to feel better fast, including doctor-approved natural remedies and products that will make riding out symptoms easier — as well as facts about staying one step ahead of germs so these viruses will know better than to mess with you again.

First thing is first though, do you have a cold or the flu?

cold and flu survival guide

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Cold symptoms:

Things typically start with a scratchy throat or runny nose and gradually get worse. Symptoms tend to be mild and include sneezing, nasal congestion, a sore throat, slightly swollen glands and coughing.

Treatment: Take it easy, rest up and stay hydrated. Pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can provide temporary relief. A cold may last 10 days, but you’re less contagious as soon as you start to feel better.

Flu symptoms:

It hits you fast: You may feel feverish in the afternoon, but have full-body aches by dinner-time. You have all the joy of cold symptoms plus a fever over 100°F, headache, fatigue, chills, and fun stuff like vomiting and diarrhea.

Treatment: You’ll probably need to stay put for three to seven days. Ask your doctor if she recommends Tamiflu, an antiviral prescription. Although you may be tired, you can start to resume your routine when the fever disappears.

If you have any of the following symptoms, you should you see a doctor right away (even if you don’t think you’re sick):

  1. It’s hard to breathe or keep fluids down — get help right away.
  2. Your headache is extreme and your neck stiff, or you’re sensitive to bright light — signs of meningitis, says Nipunie Rajapakse, M.D., infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic.
  3. Your fever is higher than100.4°F and won’t break.
  4. Vomiting is severe.
  5. You have upper-respiratory symptoms that drag on for more than 10 to 14 days.
    1. What are some good natural remedies to soothe cold and flu symptoms?

      There’s an urban legend that drinking hot liquids can prevent you from catching a cold because they send germs into your stomach to die a horrible acidic death. But the fact is hot liquids themselves won’t flush germs out of your system, says Glenn Wortmann, M.D.,director of infectious diseases at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC. Still, he adds, “it’s a good idea to stay well hydrated so your nose and air-ways can make enough fluids to help trap the viruses,” which you then cough and sneeze out.

      While it won’t prevent a cold, tea and some other home remedies may ease symptoms and shorten the duration of a cold. However, early intervention is key. When you feel that scratchy, glassy-eyed bleh feeling coming on, try these tricks — they’re nothing to sneeze at.

      cold and flu survival guide

      Mike Garten

      • Salt water: Gargle with saline to relieve a sore throat.
      • Honey: It’s a sore-throat soother and bacteria-killer.
      • Frozen foods: Things like ice cream and Popsicles can lower pain in your throat.
      • A humidifier: Anecdotal evidence suggests it may ease throat irritation by adding moisture to the air.
      • Chicken soup: Research shows it actually does ease cold symptoms.
      • Tea: Chamomile may help lull you to sleep, ginger may help sore throats and relieve nausea, echinacea may boost your immunity, and peppermint may work to ease headaches, clear sinuses and relax airways. Ginger might help too.

        What over-the-counter products will help treat symptoms?

        These products contain doctor-vetted ingredients to bring next-level relief:

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