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Frequently Asked Questions About Colds and Flu

    The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. In general, the flu is worse than a cold, and symptoms such as fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough are more common and intense. Colds are usually milder and often include a runny or stuffy nose.
    Some foods may help you get rid of your symptoms. Drink plenty of water or other fluids to stay hydrated. (Avoid caffeinated beverages, since caffeine can lead to more dehydration.) Eat foods rich in Vitamin C. Chicken soup, garlic and spices can help break up congestion and ease the flow of nasal secretions.
    Rest and drink plenty of liquids. An over-the-counter pain reliever may help relieve achiness. (Do not give aspirin to children or teens because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease.) Ask your doctor about prescription antiviral drugs. There are ways to reduce your risk for catching cold and flu viruses. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, stay hydrated and eat nutritious food. Wash your hands often. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months and older should get vaccinated each flu season. There are certain exceptions, however. Check with your doctor if you have questions about whether you should get a flu shot. No, the 2010-2011 seasonal flu vaccine protects against H1N1 as well as against the two other influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common.