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Virus: Colds, coughs and flu breed misery within hours. Here’s a review of caring for these illnesses.

Virus healthcare 101: Illness or allergies?

Allergic symptoms come on suddenly, or soon after exposure to triggers, such as molds, pollen, animal dander, etc. Symptoms can last as long as the exposure to the source. You may have the same symptoms of itchy eyes, nose, and throat with sneezing,

Without:

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  • Sore throat 
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Aches
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

Colds, cough and flu symptoms tend to fade within 7-10 days.

Home remedies can help with symptom discomfort.

Drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration and loosen congestion. Hot beverages help to clear up mucus and calm a sore throat and cough.
  • Drink 100% juice or warm chicken broth.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Urine will be clear or light yellow if drinking enough.
  • Rest as much as possible to help fight the virus.
  • To relieve a stuffy nose, use a Saline Nasal Spray
  • Gargle with warm, salt water to relieve a sore throat. 1/2 teaspoon salt in 1/2 cup warm water. Gargle as needed, every few hours.
  • Calm a cough with honey. 1/2 to 1 teaspoon as needed. Especially at bedtime. Never give honey to a child under 1-year-old. Honey can cause infant botulism.
  • To moisten the dry air, use a Cool Humidifier. Be sure to clean daily to prevent mold. Do not use hot water units around children. They could get burned.
  • Moisture from a warm shower or bath can temporarily ease congestion.
  • Stay warm and don’t get chilled.

Over-the-counter-medications for adults.

Ask a pharmacist for the best choices for each symptom. Be careful of double medicating with ibuprofen or acetaminophen, added to medications, for fever and pain relief. 

Cold and cough medicines:

  • Nasal decongestants, for a stuffy nose.
  • Cough suppressant, to a quiet cough.
  • Expectorant, to loosen mucus and cough it up.
  • Antihistamines, to ease a runny nose.
  • Pain relievers, for fever, headaches, and pain.

Antibiotics will not cure viruses. They will not help you feel better. 

Antibiotics treat bacterial infections like strep throat, sinus infections, ear infections, or pneumonia.

If symptoms worsen after a few days, or symptoms change, contact a healthcare provider. You may have developed secondary bacterial infections and need antibiotics.

Contact a healthcare provider with these changes:

  1. Fever higher than 102 degrees F.
  2. Fever more than 3 days.
  3. Symptoms last longer than 10 days.
  4. A cough with fast breathing, trouble breathing, a whooping, whistling, bark, or musical sound while breathing. Or if coughing continues after symptoms improve.
  5. Asthma with a cold, which could trigger a flare-up.
  6. Pain or pressure in the chest.
  7. Ear pain.
  8. Sinus pain in face or forehead.
  9. Swollen glands in neck or jaw.
  10. Fainting or feeling faint.
  11. Confusion.
  12. On-going vomiting.

You can be contagious 24 hours before feeling sick. When you feel the worst, you are the most contagious!

  • Stay home if you have a fever and 24 hours after it’s gone.
  • Limit interaction with people. Skip meetings.
  • Avoid physical contact, hugging, shaking hands, etc.
  • A cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
  • After touching, wipe down shared surfaces, tools, door knobs, steering wheels, TV remotes, toilet handles, faucets, etc.
  • Use hand sanitizer or wash hands with soap after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Dispose of tissues right away.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
  • Don’t drink or eat with utensils after someone who is sick, or share the same pillows or towels.
  • Wash hands with sanitizer several times a day.
  • And don’t forget to wipe down your cell phone!
Sources: www.cdc.gov/getsmart        www.familydoctor.org


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Allergic symptoms come on suddenly, or soon after exposure to triggers, such as molds, pollen, animal dander, etc. Symptoms can last as long as the exposure to the source. You may have the same symptoms of itchy eyes, nose, and throat with sneezing,

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