Do I have influenza or a cold

The flu is upon us… and it is everywhere, but there are things that we can do at home

to either lessen the symptoms or prevent them.

Influenza – it is here

One of the first things we need to figure out is –do we have Influenza (the flu) or do we have a cold.

This table from Blue Cross/Blue Shield’s magazine Living Healthy winter 2012 may give us some idea..


POSSIBLE SYMPTOMS Stuffy or runny nose, sneezing,Sore throat, cough, low fever High fever , chills, weakness,Loss of appetite, body aches, burnng eyes
DURATION AND ONSET About a week, developing slowly A week to 10 days,appearing suddenly
HOW YOU FEEL Just a bit tired, with symptoms focused on your nose, throat and head Worse than a cold: sore, weak all over and as if you could sleep all day
SELF-CARE Prop your head up at night tohelp your nose drain, drinks lots of fluid and take it easy Sleep and rest as much as you can and drink lots of fluids; if possible stay home for a day or two after your fever is gone
MEDICATION There is no cure; over-the-counter medications can ease symptoms Over -the-counter medication can ease symptoms; antiviralMedications can shorten the flu
WHEN TO CALL A DOCTOR The discharge from your nose or throat turns yellow or green You already have another chronic illness, or symptoms last more than 10 days or start to worsen
PREVENTION Wash hands often and avoid close contact with sick people Get a yearly flu shot, wash hands often and avoid contact with sick people

Table from Living Healthy winter 2013 (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan)

** I do want it to be know that I am not an physician but have taken care of many patients with influenza as a Registered Nurse.  These are all things that I, myself think are important in trying to keep yourself healthy and free of complications.  If you have any concerns with the symptoms you have, please contact your own physician.


Now that you may know what you have, What can you do about it..

1.  Wash your hands frequently and often to prevent symptoms getting worse and spreading of germs.  Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Hand washing to help prevent Influenza and from it getting worse

Frequent hand washing to help prevent the flu and from it getting worse.
Photo credit: http://www.mypersonalhygiene.com

2.   Drink plenty of fluids and keep hydrated.  Drinking hot liquids will help to relieve nasal congestion and prevent dehydration.

Drink plenty of fluids

Drink plenty of fluids.
Picture credit: http://www.fotosearch.com

3.  Plenty of rest.   Resting will help your body to direct its energy in fighting the virus.  This is a good time to stay at home and curl up under a blanket and sleep… you have permission to do this.  Sleep with an extra pillow or two under your head to help drain your nasal passages.

resting while having influenza

Importance of resting when you have the flu
photo credit: http://www.123rf.com

4.  Stay at home.  If you have influenza or a cold the best place for you is at home.  Don’t go out and spread your germs.   If possible stay at home for a day or two after your fever is gone.

5.  Gargle.  This will help to moisten and temporally relieve the pain of a sore throat.


Gargling is important
photo credit: http://www.shutterstock.com

6.  Steamy Showers.  These held to moisturize your nasal passage and relax you.  If you feel light-headed or faint due to the flu, you could run a hot shower and sit on a chair as you give yourself a sponge bath.

7.  Hot or cold packs over your sinus may help relieve some of the sinus pressure and pain.

8.  Blow your nose frequently and often.  Do not sniff back the mucous back in.  The right way to blow your nose is to press a finger over one nostril while you gently blow to clear the other.

Blow your nose frequently

Blow your nose frequently
photo credit: http://www.proteanservices.com

9.  If you have an underlying medical condition, elderly or infant you may want to call your doctor earlier then if you have been healthy prior to a cold or influenza setting in.


10.  Prevention is the key:  Good Hand washing, Healthy Eating and Regular Exercise


There are many home remedies that might help you

These are some that people have used on my search through facebook, friends and the internet.

The only thing that I personally use is a cough syrup called Buckleys and lemon or ginger tea with honey.

This list is by no means in way of importance or is not a cure for the flu or cold:

1) elderberry syrup

2) echinacea

3) broth made with rosemary, thyme and fresh garlic

4) eucalyptus oil

5) virgin coconut oil

6) peppermint oil

7) oregano

8) green tea with raw local honey and elderberry syrup

9) a bag of cranberries and an apple juiced

10) alka setzer

11) ginger

12) Vitamin C

13) Zinc

Good Luck and Stay Healthy

Sources:  Living Healthy Winter 2013, WebMD

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About the author

Marlys @This and That

A Canadian transplant into USA with an African husband, you can see my adventures in internationally cooking over at This and That.

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