The heat of summer is gone, fall is upon us, and cold and flu season is in quickly approaching. Cold and flu season tend to send consumers racing to the stores to stock up on vitamins, tissue, hand sanitizer, and chicken soup. Cold and Flu season typically begins in November and can last into May, peaking in January and February. American adults tend to suffer from 2-4 colds annually and children from 6-12. Meanwhile, Influenza impacts about 5% to 20% of the population every year. Both colds and flu are caused by viruses and can have many of the same symptoms.
How to tell if it is a cold or the flu?
A cold has milder symptoms than the flu and more likely to cause a runny, stuffy nose, and sore throat. Cold symptoms may be annoying, but tolerable. Influenza, on the other hand, can cause much more severe symptoms such as fever, sore throat, chills, body aches, extreme fatigue, and nausea. Influenza may also lead to other medical complications such as Pneumonia or bacterial infections.
If your symptoms are severe, your physician can run a test to determine if it is Influenza.
How is Influenza spread?
The flu is a communicable virus that is spread from one person to another. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, the virus becomes airborne and is transferred into another person’s nose, eyes, or mouth. The flu virus can also be picked up when a person touches an infected surface, then rubs his/her eyes, nose, or mouth
Since the flu virus is contagious, a person can pass the virus before exhibiting symptoms themselves. Adults can spread the virus after 1 day before symptoms take effect and can pass it to other individuals for up to 5 days after they become symptomatic. The time in which children are contagious is a bit longer, and they can spread the virus for more than a full week after symptoms begin.
Should I take an antibiotic?
Do not take antibiotics unnecessarily. If you take an antibiotic to fight a cold or flu virus, it will not work. It is important not to take antibiotics without cause because your body can become resistant to the antibiotics for when you actually need them. However, if your cold or flu is not managed and turns into a bacterial infection in the lungs (Bronchitis) or sinuses (Sinusitis) your physician may prescribe an antibiotic to fight the infection.
Reduce your cold and flu risk!
Keeping your immune system strong is one way combat the cold and flu season. If your immune system is strong, it can fight off many of the germs that people are passing around, reducing your chance of getting sick. Here are a few other tips to ward off colds and flu:
- WASH YOUR HANDS for at least 15-20 seconds with soap several times a day or sanitize with an alcohol base hand sanitizer.
- Cover a cough with your inner elbow or a tissue
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, or rubbing your nose
- Drink lots of water – water helps clean toxins from your system and helps your organs function better
- Wash out your water bottles every day
- Get plenty of sleep – sleep helps revive your immune system
- Take between 1500mg – 3000mg of Vitamin C daily in split doses
- Take a pro-biotic – “good bacteria” helps your GI system filter out toxins
- Manage stress – stress weakens the immune system
Natural Remedies for Colds and Flu
- For short-term relief of a sore throat, gargle and rinse with salt water
- Take vitamins to help your immune system fight the virus.
- Hot drinks with honey can help congestion and cough.
- Take a hot shower to help you relax and soothe your nasal passages.
- Apply hot or cold compresses around your nasal cavity to assist with congestion
- Elevate your head when you sleep to help nasal drainage
Overall, determining the best method of treatment for your illness is the most important action to take. Different medications can have different effects on each person so it’s best to consult with your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking medication. If you or someone you know is suffering from a cold, cough, or the flu, a compounding pharmacist may be of great assistance to you. The Compounding Pharmacy of Beverly Hills can compound a customized medication prescribed by you physician to help treat your cough or cold symptoms. If you have any questions or concerns this cold and flu season, please contact The Compounding Pharmacy of Beverly Hills.