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5 Sites for Treating Colds, Fevers and the Flu

December 06, 2010
by Emily Coakley
If you think you have the flu or a cold, it’s important to know what you’re dealing with: they can develop into serious illnesses if not treated, and influenza kills thousands of people every year. We’ve found five sites that can help you sort out whether you’re suffering from the cold or flu, and help you learn about fevers.

Cold and Flu Symptoms

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You’ve got the sore throat, a fever, cough and congestion. Is it the flu or is it a cold? WebMD has a convenient table that lists symptoms and how often they appear in each ailment.

This site also gives a brief overview of each illness’s complications, treatment, and how to prevent them. For example, colds can lead to ear aches or sinus infections, while the flu can develop into bronchitis or life-threatening pneumonia. Treating colds is really about alleviating the symptoms, while antiviral medication, if taken at the right time, can help combat the flu.

Treatments

Pay close attention to the medications you or a loved one takes to treat a cold or flu. Antibiotics, which treat bacterial infections, don’t work on these ailments, since viruses cause colds and the flu.

Young children are no longer supposed to take over-the-counter cold medicine, because there could be serious complications. Children under the age of 19 should not take aspirin because of the risk of developing Reyes Syndrome.

The American Academy of Family Physicians explains how to treat the flu and colds, and offers lists of “emergency symptoms” for children and adults. If a child or adult experiences any of the symptoms, such ear drainage or trouble breathing, a doctor should be called immediately.

Prevention

Some simple steps can go a long way toward preventing colds or the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains the different methods of prevention, such as getting a flu shot.

It also offers tips for not spreading germs at work or school, and how to properly cover your cough. For example, the CDC recommends that you cough and sneeze “into your upper sleeve, not your hands.”

Other good habits include staying home when sick, frequently cleaning your hands and avoiding people who are sick. Getting enough sleep, exercise and nutritious food can also help you stay healthy.

Fevers

When is someone a little warm, and when does that person have a fever? The answer is that a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or above is considered a fever. Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia says fevers aren’t a bad thing: “While a fever signals to us that a battle might be going on in the body, the fever is fighting for the person, not against.”

This site gives a brief overview of almost everything else you’d want to know about a fever, including general dos and don’ts for treating it. For example, don’t bundle up a person who has chills. It’ll just cause his or her core temperature to rise.

How to treat a fever depends on a person’s age. While adults can usually tolerate a fever of 100.4, a doctor should be called if an infant three months or younger has the same temperature.

The Mayo Clinic has a quick reference table that briefly explains how to treat a fever, divided by a person’s age and the fever temperature. Adults with a fever of 102 or higher should take acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen to be more comfortable, and only need to call a doctor if the fever lasts more than three days, remains higher than 103 degrees, or if medicine doesn’t seem to affect it.

For Further Information

Read more about diagnosing, preventing and treating colds and influenza in the findingDulcinea Web Guide to Colds and the Flu.

Learn about fevers and their role in our immune system by consulting the findingDulcinea Web Guide to Fever.
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