You sniff, drip, cough, hack, rub your eyes and sneeze. You blow your nose. Your body aches. You know you’re sick, but you’re not sure why. Is it a cold or the flu? How do you know which one is the culprit?
A cold is a limited infection of predominantly the upper airways and sinuses. It is less commonly accompanied by fever.
A cold usually comes on suddenly and is not accompanied by a fever. You may wake up with a sore throat and soon find yourself suffering from a runny nose, sneezing and fatigue.
While there is no cure for the common cold, there are ways to make yourself feel better. Antibiotics will not help. Your body’s immune system is the only thing that can fight off a cold.
Get plenty of sleep and increase your fluid intake. Drinking hot liquids, such as tea or chicken broth, can help clear your congestion and soothe a sore throat. Since many over-the-counter cold remedies have side effects, check with your physician before taking anything. New medications may reduce the severity and length of the cold.
Influenza is an acute respiratory infection characterized by the sudden onset of muscle aches, high fever, fatigue, shortness of breath and a dry cough. Often people are so ill they are confined to bed. Influenza symptoms typically last up to a week and this infection can be deadly. Annual flu vaccinations can help prevent or lessen the severity of the disease. Some medications shorten the course, but they must be taken within the first two days of contracting the flu.
With either a cold or the flu, you should report to your physician symptoms of fever above 103, chest pain, shortness of breath or cough of colored secretions.
At the height of the cold and flu season, it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing people coughing and sneezing. How can you protect yourself from these common ailments?
• Wash your hands. The cold virus is spread through contact. If you’ve touched something — a doorknob or computer keyboard — that may have come in contact with a sick person, wash your hands as soon as possible with soap and warm water.
• Don’t touch your face. The germs you pick up on your hands have to come in contact with a mucous membrane to gain entry into your system. That means your nose, mouth and eyes are fair game for the spread of colds and flu.
• Stay out of confined public spaces. Airplanes, trains and even movie theaters all can be hazardous for the spread of illnesses.
• Don’t share. If someone in your family is sick, make sure that no one shares dishes or eating utensils with them. Germs can linger on household items and re-infect you and others.
Eupora Medical Clinic is located at 1301 Veterans Memorial Blvd. in Eupora. Call 258-7200 for appointment information. Or call 1-800-THE DESK (1-800-843-3375) or visit www.nmhs.net/clinics.php to find the nearest North Mississippi Medical Clinic to set up an appointment.