Overview of Colds and Flus
If you're blowin' your nose and coughing and feelin' so crappy that you honestly don't think you can make it to school today, you're probably sufferin' from a cold or flu. Read on to find out how you catch it and what you can do to treat it.
Colds and Flus - What Is It?
Colds are the most common infection in North America - kids get about three to eight colds a year! A cold affects the upper respiratory system (nose, throat and ears) and lasts about a week, whereas the flu is much more serious and affects your whole body.
Colds and Flus - What Causes It?
Colds and flus are caused by viruses. There are over 200 viruses that cause colds, but rhinovirus is the most common cold virus. The flu is caused by the influenza virus. If you're hangin' with a sick person and he/she sneezes or coughes, the virus gets launched into the air - and chances are you'll breathe in the airborne virus and get sick. You can also catch a cold or flu by touching your eyes, nose or mouth after you've touched a contaminated surface (like door handles or video games).
Colds and Flus - What Are the Symptoms?
- Congestion (your nose is stuffed up and it's hard to breathe)
- Runny nose
- Sore, itchy throat
- Watery eyes
- Phlegm and mucus - lots of it!
Colds and Flus - How Is It Treated?
The flu shot is your best protection from the flu, but unfortunately there's no such thing as a cold vaccine! Your immune system will do everything it can to fight off a cold, but to help it out, you can use over-the-counter medication like decongestants, antihistamines, cough syrup and cough drops. It's also important to drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest and wash your hands regularly to prevent further infection.