Cold, Flu & Cough

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We’ve all experienced cold and flu symptoms at some point, especially in the fall and winter months - although you can catch them at any time. Colds usually last between one and two weeks, and children get them more often than adults.

Cold & Flu Symptoms

The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by one of more than 200 cold viruses. Cold symptoms include:

• Coughing 
• Sneezing 
• Runny nose 
• Sore throat 
• Aches and pains 

The flu (influenza) is an infection of the upper airway caused by a virus. Influenza symptoms can be similar to cold symptoms. If you have the flu, you may first feel very fatigued. Other flu symptoms include:

• Fever (generally more than 38 degrees Celsius)
• Headache 
• Cough 
• Chills 
• Aches and pains 

Cold & Flu Treatment

If you catch a cold, remember antibiotics won’t help. Usually, you can treat a cold at home with rest and plenty of fluids. You can lower your risk of catching the flu by getting an influenza vaccination every year. If you are 65 years or older, have any chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or any other disease compromising your immune system, you should definitely get a flu shot. Other people that should receive a flu vaccine include healthcare workers, inhabitants of care facilities, caretakers and anyone over the age of six months who is going to be exposed to the influenza virus - either in the workplace, social environment or school.

If you have a fever, drinking cold liquids and taking lukewarm baths can help alleviate symptoms.  Young kids, older adults, people with chronic illnesses and pregnant women are at a higher risk of complications from the flu. Most people can get over flu symptoms at home with over-the-counter medications. Influenza is a viral illness, and therefore antibiotics play no role in the treatment. You can also speak to your pharmacist about remedies that might help.

Talk to your family physician if you'd like more information on cold and flu.

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Print this Action Plan and check off items that you want to discuss with your healthcare provider

  • The common cold is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by one of more than 200 cold viruses. The flu (influenza) is an infection of the upper airway caused by a virus.

  • Cold symptoms include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and aches and pains.

  • Influenza symptoms can be similar to cold symptoms. Flu symptoms include fever, headache, cough, chills and aches and pains.

  • Young kids, older adults, people with chronic illnesses and pregnant women are at a higher risk of complications from the flu. You can lower your risk of catching the flu by getting an influenza vaccination every year.

  • If you have a cold or flu, antibiotics won't help. You can also speak to your pharmacist about remedies that might alleviate symptoms.

Adherence:
Adhering to your medications, prescribed exercises or lifestyle changes (such as dietary changes, smoking cessation, reduced alcohol consumption, etc.) is essential to improving health outcomes successfully. Compliance to any prescribed treatment is the number one thing you can do to ensure positive changes and optimal treatment outcomes.

The common cold and flu are conditions that affect all of us. Many people are looking for a quick cure for the cold and flu, which causes symptoms including runny nose and sore throat. While a family doctor can't cure the common cold or flu, he or she can provide advice on treatments or administer flu shots, which may protect against influenza.

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