The common cold is pretty darn common. Each year, Americans catch approximately one billion colds. Each one will vary in severity, and each person will respond to getting sick differently, but on the whole, colds are fairly innocuous. The common cold is a viral infection of your nose and throat (upper respiratory tract). It’s usually harmless, although it might not feel that way.  The flu, on the other hand, has the potential to be deadly. How you respond to each of these, then, will be very different. Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, congestion, runny nose, headaches, and fatigue.

How to Respond to the Flu
Contracting influenza is a miserable experience. It can knock you out of commission for several days and potentially threaten your life. If treated properly, however, this shouldn’t happen. So, in order to take the right precautions, here’s how to handle influenza.

Step Zero: Before you catch the flu — before it’s even flu season — go get vaccinated. This will greatly improve your chances of going through the entire flu season without getting sick.

Step One: So, you caught the flu? Right now, you’re probably feeling pretty bad and want it to end. What should you do to make that happen? First of all, stay home. You won’t help anyone by exposing them to flu germs. Second, drink plenty of water. This will keep you hydrated as your body sweats from the fever. Wait until your fever dies down before doing any strenuous activity.

Step Two: If your fever isn’t dying down, or if you don’t feel like you’re getting better, consider contacting your doctor. If any of the following symptoms present themselves, you might be in need of emergency care at a local hospital:

  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent vomiting even after only drinking water
  • Improved symptoms followed by drastic worsening of symptoms

Step Three: As you recover, hopefully without needing emergency care, slowly reintroduce your regular diet. Getting the proper amount of nutrients is important at any time, but it’s critical following a nasty illness like the flu.

For most colds, you should be able to take some basic over-the-counter medication to suppress the symptoms until your body recovers naturally. For the flu, however, a lot more is at stake. It is possible you will need emergency care at some point, so be vigilant of the dangerous warning signs mentioned above.

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