Tips to Avoid/Conquer the Common Cold

I’ve been sick for the past week. Terribly sick.

My fellow bloggers tell me my voice sounds like Harvey Fierstein. To say there is a frog in my throat is a big understatement.

It started last Thursday with a headache in the morning. It turned into a stabbing pain in the left side of my throat. It felt like someone was dripping burning acid down my throat. 800 milligrams of ibuprofen did nothing. Nothing. I couldn’t sleep. I was in bad shape.

Then it turned into something where I was convinced someone had stuffed paper towels down my throat. Paper towels soaked in salt water. My throat was dry, itchy, burning. It sucked.

Then my voice went away. And I mean far away. While my team was happy they didn’t have to listen to my usual bitching, I wasn’t happy. It hurt like heck to talk. It hurt like heck not to talk (I like to talk). I was in bad shape.

So I decided to go to the experts for some advice. The Centers for Disease Control. Here’s what they had to say about the common cold:

Common Cold and Runny Nose

 Overview of Common Cold

A cold usually includes a runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, and coughing. These symptoms can last for up to two weeks.

Common Cold

  • Over 200 viruses can cause the common cold
  • The rhinovirus is the most common type of virus that causes colds

Runny Nose during a Cold

When germs that cause colds first infect the nose and sinuses, the nose makes clear mucus. This helps wash the germs from the nose and sinuses. After two or three days, the body’s immune cells fight back, changing the mucus to a white or yellow color. As the bacteria that live in the nose grow back, they may also be found in the mucus, which changes the mucus to a greenish color. This is normal and does not mean you or your child needs antibiotics.

Signs and Symptoms of the Common Cold

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Watery eyes
  • Mild headache
  • Mild body aches

See a Healthcare Provider if You or Your Child has:

  • Temperature higher than 100.4° F
  • Symptoms that last more than 10 days
  • Symptoms that are not relieved by over-the-counter medicines

Your healthcare provider can determine if you or your child has a cold and can recommend symptomatic therapy. If your child is younger than three months of age and has a fever, it’s important to always call your healthcare provider right away.

Antibiotics are Needed When…

Antibiotics are needed only if your healthcare provider tells you that you or your child has a bacterial infection. Your healthcare provider may prescribe other medicine or give tips to help with a cold’s symptoms, but antibiotics are not needed to treat a cold or runny nose.

Antibiotics Will Not Help if…

Since the common cold is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not help it get better.  A runny nose or cold almost always gets better on its own, so it is better to wait and take antibiotics only when they are needed. Taking antibiotics when they are not needed can be harmful.

Each time you or your child takes an antibiotic, the bacteria that normally live in your body (on the skin, in the intestine, in the mouth and nose, etc.) are more likely to become resistant to antibiotics. Common antibiotics cannot kill infections caused by these resistant germs. Learn more about antibiotic resistance.

How to Feel Better

Rest, over-the-counter medicines and other self-care methods may help you or your child feel better. For more information about symptomatic relief, visit the Symptom Relief section of this website or talk to your healthcare provider or pharmacist.  Remember, always use over-the-counter products as directed.  Many over-the-counter products are not recommended for children younger than certain ages.

Preventing the Common Cold

  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Avoid close contact with people who have colds or other upper respiratory infections

 Cold Versus Flu – Questions & Answers

What is the difference between a cold and the flu?

The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar flu-like symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.

How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?

Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can be carried out, when needed to tell if a person has the flu.

What are the symptoms of the flu versus the symptoms of a cold?

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder than the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations.

I’m pretty sure I had a really bad cold. And I’m also pretty sure some nasty bacteria worked their way into the attack after my immune system was weakened. Although the CDC doesn’t recommend taking anti-biotics unless you absolutely know you have a bacterial infection, my doctor recommended it instead of running numerous test to confirm what she suspected. And I began feeling better a day or two after taking the anti-biotics.  So, I’m happy I did.

I also got some throat spray and took a lot of ibuprofen. I highly recommend that. Plus, Nyquil did the trick when I couldn’t sleep. No doubt about that.

That’s that. I feel much better today and I can breath. That’s a relief.

Keep well, my friends. Tis the season to be sick…

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