It’s the time of year when everyone around you is coughing and sniffling. Next thing you know you aren’t feeling the best either. You are probably not sure what you have or how to treat it. Here is some helpful information to help you determine what you have, how to treat it and when to seek medical attention.
The common cold is a virus. Most of the time the symptoms consist of stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, sinus and ear congestion. Antibiotics are not helpful. The best thing to do is prevent the spread by covering your mouth, preferably with your elbow. Wash your hands often. Rest. Stay hydrated. Most people can continue to work through a cold.
The flu is also a virus, but tends to be much more serious than the common cold. The flu consists of fever usually lasting 3-4 days, chills, aches, fatigue, weakness, chest discomfort, cough, and exhaustion. Again antibiotics are not useful for treating the flu. Antiviral medications can be effective if given within 48 hours of the first symptoms. Some people require hospitalization for IV antivirals, fluids and respiratory support. Most people cannot and should not work around other people when they have the flu. You should not work until you have been free of a fever for a minimum of 24 hours. If you are unable to keep liquids down, become severely dizzy upon standing or have difficulty standing you should seek medical attention.
Ebola is also a virus and certainly the most serious. It is important to note that Ebola is not spread as easily as the cold and the flu. Ebola is spread only by blood or body fluids of someone sick with Ebola virus. Ebola is NOT spread via air, water and food. Ebola symptoms are similar to flu symptoms and thus often hard to distinguish. Signs and symptoms of Ebola consist of fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising. If you suspect you have been exposed to Ebola, you should seek medical attention immediately.
The best way to stay healthy this season is to eat healthy, exercise routinely, get adequate sleep, frequently clean and disinfect work area surfaces, telephones, door knobs, sink handles and steering wheels, wash your hands appropriately and frequently, and avoid putting your hands on your face, eyes or mouth without immediately washing well prior. Also avoid sharing food and drinks with other people, even your loved ones during this time of year. Stay healthy!