Still, it could be the flu. Colds and the flu share a few symptoms. Both are caused by viruses that invade the upper airways. But colds are milder. Fever, body aches, dry cough, and being very tired are more likely to be the flu.
You’ll often feel a cold coming on over a few days. But flu symptoms begin quickly, over a period of 3 to 6 hours.
If you feel like you can’t get out of bed, don’t. Serious fatigue, along with chills and body aches, are signs that you have the flu. So you need plenty of rest.
Someone can spread the flu a day before they start to feel sick and up to 7 days after that. So they can pass the virus on before they know they have it. People with colds are most contagious 2 to 4 days after symptoms show up. But a cold can be catchy for as long as 2 weeks. That’s a good reason to wash your hands often during cold and flu season, not just when you’re around someone who looks or sounds sick.
It depends on how you feel. If you can’t focus on your tasks, if you’re coughing a lot, or if you just feel bad, stay home until you’re better. Since you may be contagious, your co-workers may thank you for it. If you do go to work, cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash your hands often. If you have the flu? Stay home. You probably won’t feel like going out, and you definitely don’t want to spread it!
With a cold or the flu, fluids help break up congestion and thin mucus. So drink plenty of liquids like water, herbal tea, ginger ale, and soup. Sports drinks or broth can also help.
Wait at least 24 hours after your fever goes away naturally -- without using medicine to bring it down -- before you return. You should also avoid travel, social events, movies, and other public gatherings for 24 hours after your temperature is normal.
There’s a reason why this home remedy has made the rounds for hundreds of years. It’s good for you and keeps your fluids up. Studies show that chicken soup may also help fight infection and keep germs from entering the body through the nose. And it seems to thin mucus better than other warm liquids.
You can get the flu at any time, but flu season in the U.S. usually lasts from October to May. Most people come down with it between December and February. The best time to get a flu vaccine is in the fall, before flu season starts, so your body has time to build up immunity. Better late than never, though. Getting a flu vaccine anytime during flu season offers some protection.
Sucking on ice chips or an ice pop does double duty for a cold and sore throat: It numbs your throat and gets fluid into your body. Gargle with a mixture of 1 cup of warm water and half a teaspoon of salt. Spit the liquid out afterward. Warm drinks like tea, or a cool mist humidifier, may also give you some relief.
It may seem like forever when you have one, but colds usually end after anywhere from 7 to 10 days. Most stick around for roughly a week. See a doctor if you’ve been sick more than 7 days or have: A high fever Severe sinus pain Swollen glands A cough that brings up mucus or blood Shortness of breath
Antibiotics won’t help a cold. They treat bacterial infections, but viruses cause colds. If your cold brings on a bacterial infection such as one in your ear or sinuses, your doctor may give you antibiotics. If it’s plain old sniffles or a sore throat, you can ask your doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter medicine to help you feel better while your cold runs its course.