Keep Germs Away
Washing your hands frequently is the number one way to reduce illness. A study conducted by the Naval Health Research Center showed that recruits who were ordered to wash their hands five times a day cut their incidence of respiratory illnesses by 45 percent.
Focus on Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone six months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine. Flu season usually begins in October and can last through May. It's best to get vaccinated before flu season starts, however, it's beneficial anytime during the flu season. While the vaccine is safe for most adults, please check with your healthcare provider to determine if it is right for you.
If you do end up getting sick there are ways you can minimize your symptoms and prevent the spread of infection. Sneeze or cough into a tissue and then dispose of it. Coughing into your hands makes it easier to pass the germs on. Also, ask your doctor about taking zinc lozenges and cook up a pot of hot chicken soup. Both may reduce the time you suffer from a cold. Don't pressure your physician for antibiotics. Colds and flu are caused by viruses, so antibiotics, designed to kill bacteria, won't do a thing. In fact, they can kill off friendly bacteria that are part of our immune defenses. If you get the flu your physician might prescribe an antiviral drug, which is different from an antibiotic. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious complications.
What is the Difference Between Colds and Flu?
Because flu symptoms are quite similar to cold symptoms, it's often hard to tell the difference. However, there is one clue about flu that helps you identify it. When you have the flu, you feel flu-like symptoms sooner than you would cold symptoms, and they come on with much greater intensity. With the flu, you may feel very weak and fatigued for up to two or three weeks. You'll have muscle aches and periods of chills and sweats as fever comes and goes. You may also have a stuffy or runny nose, headache, and sore throat.
Comparing Flu and Cold Symptoms
The following chart compares flu symptoms with cold symptoms. Use it to learn the differences and similarities between these two illnesses. If you have flu symptoms, call your doctor and ask about an antiviral drug.