Colds and flu
Although colds and flu are a problem throughout the year, the problems increase with the change of seasons, especially during winter and spring.
Treatment of these diseases usually does not require a visit to the doctor. If you follow some tips, you can take care of yourself at home. Apart from that, taking some precautions can also reduce the risk of getting infected.
Flu and cold symptoms
The symptoms of flu and common cold are almost the same. However, flu symptoms can be more severe than a common cold and recovery may take longer. Symptoms in children can sometimes last longer than in adults.
How do you know if you have the flu or a cold?
Apart from this, diarrhea and vomiting problems are more common in children with flu . Also, the baby may have ear pain and decreased alertness.
Fever, new persistent cough, unusual taste and smell or loss of taste and smell can be symptoms of covid-19 infection or corona.
Treatment of flu and common cold
Although the causes and symptoms are different, the treatments for flu and common cold are very similar.
To cure cold and flu quickly follow the following tips first-
- Get enough rest and sleep
- Keep the body warm
- Drink plenty of water. Along with water, liquid food is also beneficial. For example: fruit juice, sparkling water, canned water, soup, etc. In order to avoid dehydration, one should drink enough fluids so that the color of urine is clear or light yellow
- Gargle turmeric with warm water mixed with salt to relieve sore throat. However, this advice is not applicable to young children as they cannot gurgle properly
- You can eat honey to relieve cough. This advice does not apply to children under 1 year of age
Many people believe that vitamin C, garlic and herbal medicine like echinacea help to prevent colds or to recover quickly from colds. However, no evidence has been found for this idea.
Flu and cold medicine
A common cold usually clears up in 7-10 days without medication. The flu usually clears up on its own within two weeks. However, some medications can be used to relieve symptoms. For example –
Paracetamol : Paracetamol can be taken for fever and pain. However, be careful about taking any other pain medication, cough syrup or herbal cold medicine while taking paracetamol. Because many of these contain paracetamol. As a result, there is a risk of consuming more paracetamol than the safe dose.
Nasal drops: These are called ‘nasal decongestants’. These drops can be used to relieve nasal congestion. But do not use for more than 1 week continuously, it may worsen the problem of nasal congestion. If there is no improvement in 1 week, consult a doctor.
Do not give these drops to children under 6 years of age. Children aged 6-12 may be given this type of drop on doctor’s advice, but usually not for more than five days.
Cough syrup: If the cough is severe, cold medicine or cough syrup can be used.
Antihistamines: Doctors may prescribe these medications to reduce runny nose and sneezing. They are also known as ‘ allergy medicine ‘ to some.
Antivirals: Usually no special medicine is needed to treat the flu. However, those who develop severe flu symptoms and are at higher risk of developing complications can take antiviral medications as prescribed by their doctor.
Do not give any medicine to children without a doctor’s prescription.
Avoid giving aspirin and all medications containing salicylates to children under 18 if they suspect they have the flu. Medicines containing salicylates include upset stomach medicines such as Pink-Bismol, Pepto, Peptofit and Peptocid.
Precautions before taking medicine
Precautions should be taken before taking any medicine. Harmful side effects can occur if a drug is taken suddenly after symptoms appear. Keep the following points in mind while taking cold medicine:
- Check the label on the medicine before taking it. Follow the instructions that come with the medicine
- Many cold medicines contain analgesic ingredients, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, etc. In that case, if painkillers are used separately, the drug levels may go to harmful levels
- Taking many medicines during pregnancy can be harmful to the mother and the unborn baby. Expectant mothers should refrain from taking any medicine without doctor’s advice
- Children under two years of age should not be given any medicine for colds
- Aspirin should not be given to children
Why not antibiotics?
Antibiotics are not effective in treating colds and flu. Because colds and flu are viral diseases. And antibiotics work against bacteria, not viruses. Therefore, unnecessary use of antibiotics may lead to other complications.
Note that antiviral drugs may be used in the treatment of flu. The doctor will decide whether or not to take medication based on your symptoms.
When to go to the doctor
A doctor should be consulted if the following symptoms appear-
- If symptoms last longer than seven days for the flu and three weeks for the common cold
- If a child under three months of age has a fever or is very lethargic, or if there is concern for a child of any age
- If the age is more than 65 years or if pregnant
- If you have long-term health problems. For example: diabetes , heart disease , kidney disease and lung disease
- Taking treatment that reduces the body’s immune system. For example: Chemotherapy and long-term use of steroids
- If you have a high fever or chills with fever
Symptoms that require urgent treatment:
In case of children
- Blue lips and face
- dehydration Some of the symptoms are – not urinating even once in 8 hours, dry mouth and no watery eyes when crying. Small children can sit with the head facing forward
- Not being fully aware even when awake and not mixing with others
- Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
- Ribs inward with respiration
- chest pain
- Severe muscle pain. The pain is so severe that the child does not want to walk
- A fever rising above 104°F
- shortness of breath
- Constant pain or pressure in the chest or lower abdomen
- Persistent dizziness, confusion and tremors
- Inability to urinate
- Severe muscle pain
- Great weakness and restlessness
- Coughing up blood
In addition, if the symptoms of other long-term diseases increase, the fever-cough returns after a slight decrease, or the symptoms increase suddenly, the patient should be taken to the hospital immediately.
Ways to prevent the flu and common cold
These diseases can easily spread from person to person. But it can be prevented by taking some simple steps. In the case of the flu, the infection is most likely to spread in the first five days. A person with a cold can spread the germs to others until their symptoms clear up.
Preventing the spread of disease in families and workplaces
- If possible, take time off from work and stay at home. Avoid contact with people.
- If you have the flu, don’t leave the house unless it’s necessary for at least 24 hours after the fever goes away. In this case the fever should go away without taking fever reducing medicine.
- Avoid public gatherings until recovery. Avoid shaking hands or cuddling with anyone. Use a mask when going out.
- Stay away from others and cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. Throw the tissue in the dustbin after use. If you don’t have a tissue nearby, sneeze into your elbow. Wash your hands immediately after sneezing and coughing.
- Disinfect everyday items such as door handles, mobile phones and children’s toys once in a while.
- Practice frequent hand washing with soap and water.
Protection from flu and colds
Follow these five ways to avoid catching flu and colds—
- Practice washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water regularly for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, clean hands with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Otherwise, the virus can enter the body and cause infection.
- Avoid contact with sick people as much as possible. Avoid using their used items and utensils too.
- Exercise and follow a healthy lifestyle .
- There is no effective vaccine for the common cold. However, the flu can be prevented by getting the flu vaccine regularly. If necessary, you can take the flu vaccine according to the doctor’s advice.
A cold usually clears up in 7-10 days. However, those with a low immune system or respiratory diseases such as asthma are more likely to suffer from complications such as pneumonia from the common cold.
The flu, on the other hand, usually clears up within two weeks. But in some cases there may be various complications including pneumonia. Some complications can even lead to death.
Complications of the flu include—
- Ear infection
- Inflammation of the heart or myocarditis
- Brain inflammation or encephalitis
- Musculoskeletal inflammation
- Severely obstructed function of multiple organs such as lungs and kidneys
- A serious infection can cause a life-threatening reaction in the body called ‘sepsis’
In addition, people with long-term illnesses can have the flu, which can make the disease worse. For example, asthmatic patients may have asthma attacks and heart patients may have worsening conditions.
For whom the flu is more dangerous
Anyone can get the flu and suffer from flu-related complications. However, some people are more likely to suffer after getting the flu. For example –
- Persons aged 65 years and above
- pregnant woman
- Children under five years of age
- A person who is already suffering from any disease
If so, you can take the flu vaccine on the doctor’s advice. And follow the ways to avoid the flu.