Memorial Hermann Offers Tips on Cold vs. Flu this Season
Colds and the flu are more likely to occur when the cooler weather sets in during the holiday season. It isn't always easy to tell the difference between the two, and Memorial Hermann offers valuable advice:
The main symptoms of the common cold include nasal stuffiness, runny nose, and sneezing. They are all symptoms centered in the nose, above the neck, although the individual may also feel tired. These symptoms are often accompanied by an initial scratchy feeling in the throat, followed by sneezing and a watery nasal discharge. The treatment for a cold is plenty of rest, and lots of fluids, especially fruit juices. Over-the-counter medicine may help soothe some of the symptoms, but they can't cure or prevent the cold. The cold usually lasts about one week. Sometimes an accompanying cough will linger on for another week.
The main symptom of the flu is feeling sick all over. The flu begins with a fever, a flushed face, body aches, and fatigue. The fever usually lasts for a day or two, but can last up to five days. After the second to fourth day of the illness, the "whole body" symptoms begin to subside, and respiratory symptoms begin to increase.
A dry, hacking cough is often the most prominent of the respiratory symptoms. Sore throat, headache, nasal discharge and sneezing are also common. Except for the cough, these symptoms can last up to seven days. The cough and tiredness may last for weeks after the rest of the illness is over.
The treatment for the flu is to drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest, and wash hands frequently for at least 15 seconds. Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen is fine to take for relief of fever and achiness, but not aspirin.
Dr. Ernest Bartimmo, the chief medical officer and internal medicine physician for the Memorial Hermann Medical Group encourages people to get a flu vaccine, "The flu is highly contagious. But a flu vaccine
may reduce your chances of catching the flu by up to 80% during the season."
"The best defense is to avoid crowds & obviously sick people, use alcohol based hand cleansers often especially after hand shakes," Dr. Bartimmo adds. "See your doctor who can do an office test to confirm the flu and if indicated prescribe certain medications."
For more information about the flu vaccine, and other Memorial Hermann services, please call 713-222-CARE or visit online at www.memorialhermann.org.
About Memorial Hermann
An integrated health system, Memorial Hermann is known for world-class clinical expertise, patient-centered care, leading-edge technology and innovation. The system, with its exceptional medical staff and more than 20,000 employees, serves southeast Texas and the greater Houston community. Memorial Hermann's 12 hospitals include three hospitals in the Texas Medical Center, including a level 1 trauma center, a hospital for children and a rehabilitation hospital, eight suburban hospitals, and a second rehabilitation hospital in Katy. The system also operates three Heart & Vascular Institute locations; the Mischer Neuroscience Institute; the Ironman Sports Medicine Institute; an air ambulance; cancer, imaging and surgery centers; sports medicine and rehabilitation centers; outpatient laboratories; a chemical-dependency treatment center; a home-health agency; a retirement community; and a nursing home. To learn more, visit www.memorialhermann.org.
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