Cold and flu in 11 points

What is the flu? What are the symptoms? When should we consult a doctor? What can we do at home?

Flu symptoms

Influenza symptoms are much worse than cold symptoms. A person who catches the flu will suddenly become weak and feverish and will suffer from headaches and muscle pain. These symptoms can last for up to two weeks and the flu is very contagious. Despite its gravity, the flu does not justify going to the emergency room except for persons at risk and very young children.

Cold symptoms

Although over 100 different viruses cause it, the common cold is not very contagious. The droplets that come out of our mouth and nose when we cough and sneeze carry it. The symptoms of a cold, although quite inconvenient, are not as bad as flu symptoms and consist in a runny nose, throat ache, nose congestion and a mild sensation of fatigue. A common cold lasts about a week.

Should we go to the clinic?

Elderlies, children under 3 years old and pregnant women should consult a doctor promptly if the symptoms are serious, if they have difficulty breathing, ear pain, if they expel green or brown mucus, if they are still feverish after three days and if their state is not improving after five to seven days. Others should stay at home and get some rest to avoid worsening their sickness and contaminating others. Wait until the fever disappears to resume your activity and don’t hesitate to dial the 8-1-1 and ask for advice.

Wash your hands

We cannot stress it enough; the first thing to do to avoid being sick and transmitting diseases is to wash our hands. We must wash them often and wash between our fingers, our palms, around our thumbs and all the way to our wrists for at least 20 seconds, which is just long enough to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.

Drying your hands

Once your hands are clean, it would be a shame to dry them with an old towel full of germs. Indeed, on a towel, gastroenteritis germs can survive for two weeks and a cold can survive 48 hours. Although air dryers seem to be a better option from an environmental point of view, studies have shown that drying your hands with a clean paper towel is the best way to avoid contamination.

Cover your mouth

We still see children and adults sneezing or coughing without covering their mouths even though it is the first preventive measure to teach a child as several viruses can be transmitted via the droplets that are sprayed around when you cough and sneeze. The best way to protect others is to sneeze and cough into your elbow to avoid contaminating doorknobs and other objects with your hands.

Treating a cold

To avoid sinusitis, conjunctivitis, bronchiolitis, pharyngitis or otitis, it is important to take care of yourself when you have a cold. Cough syrups should only be used on dry coughs because productive cough helps you clear up your airways. It is recommended to drink at least two litres of water to avoid dehydration and to use acetaminophen to ease pain and mild fever. Saline solutions are also very helpful and you should get plenty of rest. Although cold medications such as Advil cold and sinus and decongestants will not make you heal faster, they can ease the symptoms. However, children cannot take any of it and can only use specific products such as Helixia.

Treating a flu

In addition to resting as much as possible, you can take ibuprofen and acetaminophen to reduce fever, headaches and muscle ache. You can also throw your tissues away right away instead of piling them next to your bed. Gargle with salt water to soothe your throat.

Air quality

Because we never open the windows during the winter, our houses are full of pollutants. To breathe better and help your little patients breathe too, you should keep your heating systems clean and if you cannot let some fresh air in, buy an air purifier.

Take a bath

A good hot bath could relax you and help you breathe. If you have a cold or flu, don’t hesitate to run a bath. If you want to, you can add sea salt to the water or try this SOS Cold foaming bath gel!


Citruses are full of vitamin C and will boost your immune system. To heal faster or to get stronger, eat half a grapefruit in the morning, drink a good glass of orange juice or slice a lemon in hot water to forget about your cold. It will brighten you day right away!

Image de Anne Costisella

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