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The common cold and the flu may seem very similar at first. They are indeed both respiratory illnesses and can cause similar symptoms. However, different viruses cause these two conditions, and your symptoms will gradually help you differentiate between the two. Both a cold and the flu share a few common symptoms. People with either illness often experience:. Another distinct difference between the two is how serious they are. Colds rarely cause additional health conditions or problems. The flu, however, can lead to sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, and sepsis.

To determine whether your symptoms are from a cold or from the flu, you need to see your doctor.

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These treatments can include using over-the-counter OTC cold medications, staying hydrated, and getting plenty of rest. Rest and hydration are also very beneficial for people with the flu. Much like the common cold, the flu just needs time to work its way through your body.

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Cold symptoms typically take a few days to appear. The symptoms of a cold rarely appear suddenly. Knowing the difference between cold and flu symptoms can help you decide how to treat your condition — and whether you need to see your doctor.

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Learn more about the symptoms of the common cold ». Cold treatments fall into two main :. The most common OTC medicines used for colds include decongestants, antihistamines, and pain relievers. The most effective and common home remedies for a cold include gargling with saltwater, rest, and staying hydrated.

Some research also shows that herbs like echinacea may be effective at reducing symptoms of a cold.

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Instead, they can just make symptoms less severe and easier to manage. If you have high blood pressure, talk with your doctor before you take any OTC cold medicine. Most people with high blood pressure can take these medicines with no concerns. However, some decongestant medications work by narrowing blood vessels.

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This may increase your blood pressure, and if you already have blood pressure issues, the medicine may complicate your condition. Learn about more home remedies for cold symptoms ». The U. Some doctors stretch that recommendation to age 6. Rest : Children who have a cold may be more lethargic and irritable than normal. Let them stay home from school and rest until the cold has cleared.

Colds can dehydrate them quickly. Water is great.

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Warm drinks like tea can pull double duty as a sore throat soother. Food : Kids with a cold may not feel as hungry as usual, so look for ways to give them calories and fluids. Smoothies and soups are two great options. Saline nasal sprays can also help clear nasal congestion. Warm baths: A warm bath can sometimes help reduce a fever and ease mild aches and pains that are common with a cold. Check out these tips for treating children who have a cold ». The most common OTC cold medicines for adults and children over the age of 6 include decongestants, antihistamines, and pain relievers.

Decongestants help ease nasal congestion and stuffiness. Antihistamines prevent sneezing and ease runny noses. Pain relievers ease the general body aches that sometimes accompany a cold. Certain medications help relieve symptoms by narrowing blood vessels and reducing blood flow. If you have high blood pressure, this may affect blood flow throughout your body.

Overuse and side effects from cold medicines may cause serious problems for younger children. Learn more about the medications used to treat the common cold ». Recognizing symptoms of a cold is often all you need in order to diagnose yourself. You may actually be showing symptoms of a different problem, such as the flu or strep throat.

If you have a cold, you can expect the virus to work its way out in about a week to 10 days. The only way to definitively know if your symptoms are the result of a cold or the flu is to have your doctor run a series of tests. Learn more about diagnosing a cold ». The common cold is a viral infection in your upper respiratory tract. Viruses cannot be treated with antibiotics.

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In most cases, viruses like the cold just need to run their course. The average common cold lasts anywhere from seven to 10 days.

How do you get rid of a cold overnight?

Depending on your overall health, you may have symptoms for more or less time. For example, people who smoke or have asthma may experience symptoms longer. If your symptoms do not ease or disappear in seven to 10 days, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.

Therefore, it needs more energy. Energy comes from food. It makes sense, then, that you need to feed a cold so your body can have enough energy to help kick the virus as quickly as possible. You may be tempted to skip meals, however, because a cold can impair your sense of taste. But make sure you keep eating so your body has enough energy.

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A faster metabolism burns more calories. The higher your fever climbs, the more energy your body needs.

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You just need to eat normally so your body gets plenty of energy to fight the bugs. The following foods may be extra helpful for your cold recovery:. Warm liquids are good for helping open up your sinuses so you can breathe more easily, and the salt from the soup can ease irritated throat tissue. Warm drinks like tea are great for colds.

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Add honey for a cough-busting boost. Slices of ginger can also reduce inflammation and ease congestion. Caffeine can interfere with medicines, and it may increase your risk of dehydration. Yogurts contain billions of healthy bacteria that can boost your gut health. Having a healthy microbiome in your gut can help your body fight any of illnesses and conditions, including a cold.

Like hot tea, popsicles may help numb and ease the pain of a sore throat. The most important thing to remember when you have a cold is to stay hydrated. Drink water or warm tea regularly.

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Both can make symptoms of a cold worse. Learn more about what you should eat and drink to soothe a sore throat ». Colds are very minor, but they are inconvenient and can certainly be miserable. But you can do a few key things during cold season to help you avoid picking up one of the viruses. Wash your hands. Old-fashioned soap and water is the best way to stop the spread of germs.

Take care of your gut. Eat plenty of bacteria-rich foods like yogurt, or take a daily probiotic supplement. Keeping your gut bacteria community healthy can help your overall health. Avoid sick people. Be sure to wash your hands after coming into contact them.

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Cover your cough. Check out more tips for cold prevention ». Viruses, often cold rhinoviruses, can be spread person to person or surface to person.

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A virus can live on a surface for several days. If someone with a virus touches a door handle, people who touch that same handle for several days afterward may pick up the virus. You must spread the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth in order to get sick. Learn more about what can cause a cold ». Age: Children under age 6 are more likely to develop colds.

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