Have you noticed that everywhere you go someone is sneezing, coughing, or blowing their nose?
Well it’s official, cold and flu season is upon us. Of course, we all try and stay away from anyone who appears to be sick, but eventually the inevitable happens. Most people can let a cold or a mild case of the flu run its course without seeing a doctor. However, there are situations when calling the doctor is necessary. And, knowing a little bit about these illnesses can help you make the right decision for yourself or someone in your family.
The common cold is usually harmless, but you may feel quite miserable for a while. If you have a preschooler you already know that they get lots of colds, however, as an adult, you’ll probably get a few colds each year, too.
Symptoms of a cold can last about a week or two and may include the following:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy, sore throat
- Watery eyes
- Mild headache
- Mild body aches, fatigue
Call the Doctor if any of the following symptoms develop:
- Inability to swallow
- Sore throat for more than 2 to 3 days
- Fever 103 F or higher
- Pregnant or nursing
- Cold symptoms in newborn
- Acute sinus pain
Influenza (Flu) is a contagious viral respiratory infection that is usually much more debilitating and serious than the common cold especially for anyone with certain health conditions and other risk factors such as age. Every year there are some deaths due to complications from this virus, so it is an illness to take seriously. And, doctors recommend getting a yearly flu vaccination.
Symptoms of the flu come on with much more impact and severity than the common cold and can consist of the following:
- Fever over 100 F
- A cough and sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle Aches and Fatigue
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)
Call the Doctor at the first signs of symptoms because you might be a candidate for the antiviral medication. Also, call if you or someone in your family has any of the following risks for flu complications.
- Chronic medical conditions (asthma, heart disease, diabetes, kidney, liver or blood disease.
- Are pregnant
- Are older than 65
- Are younger than 5
- Weakened immune system due to illness or medications
- Are a Native American or Alaska native
- Are obese
Prevention is always the best medicine, so make sure you get your flu vaccine and practice good hygiene. Washing hands often and thoroughly cleaning countertops, bathrooms and doorknobs can help cut down on the spread of germs. But, if you or someone in your family does get sick this season, remember it’s always best to call the doctor when in doubt about the seriousness of your symptoms.