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Cold or flu: Know the symptoms

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While February is usually the peak month for colds and flu, December, January and March rank about equally as months with highest numbers of cold and flu viruses. Sometimes, it may be difficult to determine which virus has attacked.

Symptoms of the common cold include a clear, watery discharge from the nose, sneezing, coughing, feeling tired and congestion, especially when lying down. The cold virus doesn't usually cause a fever.

Symptoms of the flu virus can include those of the common cold, but will also produce a fever with chills and all-over body aches. Fatigue may be more pronounced with the flu. There is a high probability that the flu will cause nausea and loss of appetite. A severe headache is a good indicator that the illness is caused by the flu virus.

If the flu is caught within the first 48 hours, a medication like Tamiflu should lessen the severity and length of the illness. Adults can take aspirin or ibuprofen for fever, but children under the age of 19 should not aspirin or any medicine with the salicylic compound due to the connection to Reye's Syndrome.

If the flu wasn't diagnosed soon enough to use Tamilflu, there is no need to see a doctor unless an adult has a fever above 103 degrees Fahrenheit that can't be broken. Staying hydrated is most important. Use natural remedies to lessen the severity of symptoms.



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