Is it a Cold or the Flu?

You’re feeling pretty lousy. You’ve got sniffles, sneezing, and a sore throat. Is it a cold or is it the flu? It can be hard to tell them apart because they share so many symptoms. But colds and flu are caused by different viruses, and understanding
the differences will help you choose the
best treatment.

“If you know what you have, you won’t take medications that you don’t need, that aren’t effective, or that might even make your symptoms worse,” says Dr. Teresa Hauguel, an expert on infectious diseases that affect breathing.

“As a rule of thumb, the symptoms associated with the flu are more severe,” Hauguel notes. Both illnesses can lead to a runny nose, congestion, cough, and sore throat. But the flu can also cause high fever that lasts for 3-4 days, along with a headache, fatigue, and general aches and pain. These symptoms are less common when you have a cold.

Most people with a cold or flu recover on their own without medical care. But check with a health care provider if symptoms last beyond 10 days or if symptoms aren’t relieved by over-the-counter medicines.

To treat colds or flu, get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. If you have the flu, pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can reduce fever or aches.

Be careful to avoid “drug overlap”when taking medicines that list two or more active ingredients on the label. For example, if you take two different drugs that contain acetaminophen – one for a stuffy nose and the other for headache – you may be getting too much acetaminophen. If you have questions, it is always best to talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Constant Email Checks
Can Leave You Stressed 

Looking for a way to help reduce your stress? Try checking your emails less often, researchers suggest.

The new study featured 124 adults –including students, financial analysts, medical professionals and others – who were divided into two groups. During the first week, one group checked their emails only three times a day, while the other group checked their emails as often as they liked. The groups then switched for the second week of the study.

“Our findings showed that people felt less stressed when they checked their email less often,” study author Kostadin Kushlev, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of British Columbia in Canada, said in a university news release.

However, changing email habits proved difficult for many of the study participants, the investigators found.

“Most participants in our study found it quite difficult to check their email only a few times a day,” Kushlev said. “This is what makes our obvious-in-hindsight findings so striking: People find it difficult to resist the temptation of checking email, and yet resisting this temptation reduces their stress,” he explained.

Businesses and other organizations may help their workers reduce stress by suggesting they deal with their email in chunks instead of constantly checking and responding to messages, Kushlev said.

The study was published online in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Soothing a Sore Throat  

We’ve all had sore throats around this time of year. Your throat feels scratchy and may hurt when you swallow. What can you do to soothe a sore throat? And when is it a sign of a more serious infection?

Most sore throats are caused by viral infections such as the common cold or the flu. These throat problems are generally minor and go away on their own.

To soothe your irritated throat, keep it moist. “Ever notice that a sore throat seems worse in the morning? It’s because your throat gets so dry overnight,” says
Dr. Valerie Riddle, an infectious disease expert. “Having lozenges or hard candies – or anything that stimulates saliva production –
will keep your throat moist. It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids.”

For young children who might choke on hard candies or lozenges, try cold liquids and popsicles. Throat pain might also be soothed by throat sprays and over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin, but don’t give aspirin to young children.

Contact a doctor if your sore throat is severe, doesn’t feel better after a few days, or is accompanied by a high fever or swollen glands. These symptoms could be signs of a bacterial infection such as strep throat. Taking antibiotics will not help at all if your sore throat is caused by viruses, but they’re essential for fighting bacterial infections like strep.

Strep is the most common bacterial throat infection. Although it can occur in adults, strep throat is more common in children between ages of five and 15. If your child has severe throat pain, a fever above
100.4 degrees, or swollen glands, you should get medical attention right away.