Is it me, or has just about everyone you know been afflicted with a nasty bug this winter? This year seems especially bad. I can say with absolute certainty that this year was probably the worst on record for me as far as duration of my sickness.
I caught something before Thanksgiving and it seemed to linger until mid-January. That has never happened to me. I can’t recall ever being sick for more than a week. It attacked me in so many different ways, too. Apparently I wasn’t alone, as most people I’ve talked to both here in our immediate area and around the country have had the same thing – a long-lasting, super nasty bug of some sort.
What’s the difference between the “cold” and the “flu?” The flu is caused by one virus, which we know as influenza. The common cold, on the other hand, can be caused by more than 100 different viruses. Scary stuff.
How do you do know which one you have? That can actually be tricky, as symptoms of both can overlap. Typically, when your situation is nose and throat-based, you probably have the common cold. This usually leaves the system completely within a couple of weeks, tops. How did you catch it? Well, when you touch some- thing that someone with a cold has touched, and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes, chances are good you’ve got it. Also, when infected people sneeze or cough, they spray tiny virus-packed droplets all over the place. Obviously that’s how this stuff spreads so fast. The best defense, like they always say, is to wash your hands religiously, and quit touching your nose, eyes and face so much.
Since the cold is caused by a virus, antibiotics aren’t effective in treating it. However, it’s quite common for a cold virus to trigger a bacterial infection in your sinus or respiratory system, which would, in fact, require antibiotics. Left untreated, these can last a long time and cause other complications. So if you think that has happened, it’s best to see your doc.
The flu is another annoying beast that takes a toll on many of us during the winter months. If you’re not the flu-shot type, chances are, no matter how awesome you think your immune system is, you’re going to catch it. And when you do, you will pay for it.
Catching the flu happens the same way you catch a cold, so practicing amazing hygiene is about the only way to protect your- self. Once you catch it, more than likely you’ll experience a lot of unpleasant symptoms like a sore throat, fever, chills, running nose, body aches, extra fatigue, and headache. Fun stuff, right?
If you have the flu, the best way to treat it is to rest, and drink plenty of water. Some of the stuff you can buy at the drugstore can help alleviate symptoms, but no matter which way you slice it, you’re just going to have to ride it out. See your local doc, of course, if you think it could be something more.
Clean hands are happy hands.