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Cold & Flu

The flu, also known as influenza, and the common cold cause many of the same symptoms such as sneezing, coughing and a runny nose. A sudden high fever is often one of the best indicators that you have the flu and not a cold, though this may not always be the case. The flu also tends to present more suddenly and last longer.

The common cold and the flu are both caused by viruses. Antibiotics do not work on viruses. Antibiotics only work to kill bacteria. Therefore, taking antibiotics for a cold or flu will not make the cold or flu go away any faster. Taking antibiotics improperly, such as when you do not truly need them, can lead to antibiotic resistance. To prevent antibiotic resistance, only take antibiotics when you truly need them and according to the directions.

In most cases you do not need to see your doctor if you have a cold or the flu. However, you should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- fever that lasts longer than 4 days (above 38.5 C)
- shortness of breath
- earache after cold/flu symptoms subside
- if the person with the cold/flu symptoms is less than 2 years old

When you have a cold or the flu it is best to treat the individual symptoms you are actually experiencing, as opposed to what you might experience. Many cold/flu medications are available over the counter. If you take ingredients for symptoms you do not have you may experience additional side effects. Many over the counter products also contain ingredients you should not take if you have certain medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. If you are unsure about what product is right for you always talk to your Apple Drugs pharmacist first.

Besides taking medications, you can often treat your symptoms with non-drug measures such as drinking plenty of liquids, using a humidifier, and getting plenty of sleep.

To reduce the spread of viruses that cause colds and the flu, as well as prevent catching a cold or the flu always wash your hands. If someone has a cold or flu in your household it is a good idea to practice extra hand washing. Eighty percent of common infections, including colds and the flu, are spread through your hands. Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of upper respiratory infections.

To protect yourself from the flu you can also be immunized against influenza.

For more information on colds, the flu and immunizations, talk to your Apple Drugs pharmacist.