By now you probably know that humidifiers help to relieve runny noses, dry coughs and congestion caused by the cold and the flu (or if you didn’t, now you do!). Adding moisture can help clear the sniffles so you breathe easier and sleep better so your body can fight off your cold or flu. While the treatments for these two illnesses are similar, they vary in severity – being able to tell the difference between them may help determine if you can treat it yourself or if you should see the doctor.
You have a cold if:
Runny Nose: When the weather changes many of us experience a runny nose. We feel fine otherwise but we’re constantly reaching for the tissues. This is no reason to stay home, but you should probably get a pocket pack of facial tissues and wash your hands often to avoid spreading germs.
Sore Throat: The runny nose and sore throat sort of go hand in hand. Hot drinks will both warm you up and help to clear the mucus in your throat. A humidifier will also help to clear your nose helping to relieve a sore throat.
Cough: If your nose is runny and your throat is sore, in all likelihood you’re probably coughing as well. Be sure to cough into your elbow instead of your hands to prevent germ travel, but as long as the cough doesn’t hurt too badly it’s probably just a cold. Hot drinks will not only warm you up in the cold weather, they’ll also help to soothe your cough. Try some tea with honey and a little lemon to coat and soothe your throat.
Bottom Line: Colds are usually manageable without a doctor’s attention. A humidifier, lots of rest and fluids like tea and juice usually help to clear up a cold within a week without needing to take time off from work, school or your regular activities.
You have the flu if:
Fever: One of the first signs that your cold is not just a cold is that you feel feverish. Sweats, chills and having an over 100 ° F fever are good indications you’re coming down with the flu. Usually this fever occurs suddenly soon after being exposed to the virus.
Muscle or Body Aches: When your head, back and just in general you feel achy, this is your body’s way of telling you to take it easy. You can try pain reducers, but this may also be a sign that you have the flu and would need a more specific medication. It’s also recommended to stay hydrated to help relieve aches and pains. Give your body a rest, do not engage in any physical activity and get lots of rest.
Fatigue or Exhaustion: With a cold you may sound sick and have a runny nose, but otherwise feel like you can conquer the world or your day, but with the flu you just want to go home and curl up with a book or the remote. If you’re tired, that’s okay take a few days to slow your schedule down and let yourself recover. Your body will thank you by being able to fight off the virus.
Bottom Line: The flu looks a lot like a cold only with more severe symptoms. Be sure to give yourself the time to rest and if you feel achy and feverish for more than a few days make an appointment with your doctor so you can get any appropriate medications. You can prepare yourself for the flu by getting your flu shot during the fall.
Be sure to wash your hands, run and clean your humidifier, eat healthy and give yourself the rest you need. Stay healthy everyone!
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